Mid-March means one thing where I live: it’s maple syrup season! This is the time of year when sap starts running, if the temperature cooperates, and Sugar Shacks open their doors across Ontario and Quebec.
Can you take your dog to Sugar Shacks? It depends. Some maple syrup farms allow dogs on the property but not in the buildings where pancake meals are sold, along with bottles of the sugary gold.
If you want to take your dog along, maple syrup festivals are the better options than sugar shacks. Most festivals are outdoors, offer more than just meals and syrup, and are adjacent to outdoor trails your dog will enjoy.
Dog friendly Maple Syrup Festivals in Ontario
Stouffville: Bruce Mill’s Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival
Dates: March 4 to April 1, 2023 (9:30 am to 4 pm)
Cost: $9.55 adult admission
Activities: life-sized games, horse-drawn carriage rides, disc golf, and food trucks
Address: Bruce Mill’s Conservation Area, 3291 Stouffville Road, Stouffville, Ontario
Dogs: Dogs are welcome on leash, but not in the Visitor’s Centre
Woodbridge: Kortright Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival
Dates: March 4 to April 1, 2023 (weekends: 9:30 am to 5 pm; weekdays: 9:30 to 4 pm)
Cost: $9.55 adult admission
Activities: life-sized games, horse-drawn carriage rides, balloon art, and experience trail
Address: Kortright Centre for Conservation, 9550 Pine Valley Drive, Woodbridge, Ontario
Pet Dogs: Dogs are welcome on leash, but not in the Visitor’s Centre
Rockton: Westfield Heritage Village Maple Syrup Festival
Dates: March 15 to April 7, 2023 ( weekends 10 am to 4 pm)
Cost: $25.50 (including parking) adult admission for 2 hour time slot. Reservations required
Activities: modern sugar shack, maple trivia trail, pancake breakfast, all historic buildings open, dress for the weather
Address: Westfield Heritage Village, 1049 Kirkwall Road, Rockton, Ontario
Pet Dogs: Dogs are welcome on leash, but not inside the historic buildings
Oakville: Bronte Creek Maple Syrup Festival
Dates: March 13 to March 26, 2023 (9 to 3, Saturdays and March Break)
Cost: $18.00 per car
Activities: walking trail, games, food truck, and off leash dog run at the conservation site
Address: Bronte Creek Conservation Area Provincial Park, 1219 Burloak Drive, Oakville, Ontario
Pet Dogs: Dogs are welcome on leash, but not in the buildings or on the tractor ride. Dogs are welcome on the guided tours of Maple Trail.
Mountsberg: Maple Town at Mountsberg Festival
Dates: March 4 to April 9, 2023 (9 am to 5 pm; weekends, holidays, and March Break)
Cost: $12.00 adult admission
Activities: pancake house, sugar shack, historic sites, extensive walking trails, carriage rides, maple trivia trail
Address: Mountsberg Conservation Area, 2259 Milburough Line, Campbellville, Ontario
Pet Dogs: Dogs are welcome on leash, but not in the pancake shack, animal barn, birds of prey area, and wagon rides. You can still have breakfast with your dog, though, because outdoor picnic tables are scattered around.
BONUS EVENT! Hamilton: West Avenue Cider House Maple Taps Festival
Dates: April 15, 11 am to 5 pm
Activities: West Avenue Cider House Maple Taps Festival includes the launch of a new maple cider, maple products for sale, and food vendors offering pancakes, sour dough maple French toast, grilled cheese, seafood chowder, and stone baked pizza with maple infused toppings.
Address: West Avenue Cider, 84 Concession 8 East, Hamilton, Ontario
Pet Dogs: Dogs are welcome on leash
Maple Syrup is Truly Canadian
Approximately 80% of the world’s maple syrup is produced in Canada, specifically Quebec where 70% of the world’s supply is produced. The country has Indigenous people to thank for understanding the value of tree sap and what can happen when you collect and boil it.
For centuries, North American First Nations used maple syrup as both food and medicine. It would be centuries, though, before maple syrup would find its way onto the ‘superfoods’ list thanks to its antioxidants and nutrients such as zinc, manganese, and calcium, making it a healthier sweetener than refined sugar.
Maple Syrup Fun Facts
- It takes a lot of sap to make one bottle of maple syrup, specifically, 40 gallons of sap is boiled down to only one gallon of syrup.
- Maple syrup is literally a reduction of sap that drips from maple trees.
- Maple syrup grades indicate when in the season the sap was harvested. Early spa is lighter in colour and grades and later season sap is darker in grade and a stronger flavour.
- If there’s any question about the value of maple syrup in Canada … In 2021, a group of thieves stole $18 million worth of maple syrup from a warehouse in Quebec, leading to a “Great Maple Syrup Heist” investigation.
Can My Dog Eat Maple Syrup?
You can give your dog maple syrup, but it’s not a good idea. Maple syrup is not toxic to dogs, so if your pup licks some, it’s not tragic or even cause for concern. But it’s not great. While maple syrup appears on some lists as a ‘superfood,’ it doesn’t provide much benefit to canines other than as a quick sweet treat. It’s the sweet part, that’s problematic.
True to its name, syrup is sweet, high in sugar, and does little more than contribute to your dog’s calorie intake. If weight gain is an issue, keep Fido away from fructose. Teeth and sugar aren’t good friends, either. Some dogs prefer their sweets in the form of fruits such as apples, bananas, and strawberries. Moderation of course is key.
Dog-friendly Maple Syrup Festivals Locations:
I’m Sherri Telenko, a professional writer for 30 years and travel writer for the last 20. I’m a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America. I’ve lived with cats, dogs, horses and guinea pigs all my life, and I travel almost weekly with my canine companion, Victoria.