Montreal Sugar Shacks, Cabanes à Sucre and Maple Syrup Lore

Plan Your Next Sugaring off With These Tried-and-Tested Recommendations

Montreal sugar shacks are the stuff of dreams, one-stop shops featuring the goo of the gods in all of its processed tree sap glory, syrup primed to drench any and all sugar shack meal items.

But if you've never heard of sugar shacks, sugar shack meals or have yet to even sample this priceless “goo” --ed note: actually, maple syrup is affordable and readily available across Montreal-- then my cabane à sucre mumblings may be a little confusing to you.

But once you cross over to the sweet side and taste what I'm talking about, you'll understand.

And you'll be a believer.

  • 01 of 07

    What's a Cabane à Sucre?

    Montreal sugar shacks, cabanes à sucre and maple syrup guidance for sugaring off season.
    ••• Joe Raedle / Getty Images

    Cabane à sucre is a term that's thrown around in both French and English conversation in Montreal as soon as winter snow starts melting, or even earlier.

    No surprise. It's a rite of passage and annual event for countless locals who flock to them for an outrageously oversized meal. In true tradition, cabane à sucre season typically heralds the arrival of spring in Quebec.

    But what does “cabane à sucre” mean? It's the French expression for sugar shack, translating literally into ''cabin of sugar.''

  • 02 of 07
    Montreal sugar shacks, cabanes à sucre and maple syrup guidance for sugaring off season.
    ••• Steve Bronstein / Getty Images

    Show me a Montrealer and I'll show you someone who's had a sugar shack meal of probably epic proportions

    Meat pie, fried pork rinds, unlimited sausage links, pea soup, omelettes, and a dessert named after a nun's gaseous emissions are just some of the highlights of a meal that makes American supersizing comparable to rations.

  • 03 of 07
    Montreal urban sugar shacks include these must-try destinations.
    ••• Photo courtesy of Scéna

    So where does one go for a sugar shack meal or to simply taste hot maple taffy served on snow on the island of Montreal?

  • 04 of 07
    Montreal sugar shacks, cabanes à sucre, and maple syrup.
    ••• Traditional sugar shacks typically make their own maple syrup on location from the tree sap of sugar maple trees. Philippe Henry / Getty Images

    Urban sugar shacks are one thing. And they're quite a good thing.

    But if you really want the authentic cabane à sucre experience, you have to leave city limits and head out to the country. But you needn't go that far. A handful of great sugar are a one-hour drive or less from the city.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Maple-Themed Drinks You're Gonna Love

    Montreal sugar shacks, cabane à sucre meals, and maple syrup drinks.
    ••• Above: maple sap buckets attached to trees for collecting maple syrup circa 1920. Vintage Images / Getty Images

    Head to the city's swankier hotels in late winter and early spring. Most of them offer elaborate maple-themed cocktails in honor of the season.

  • 06 of 07
    How to make maple taffy? It's easy with this recipe.
    ••• Photo by Flickr user Rosana Prada

    Who doesn't like hot maple taffy on snow? Try it once and you'll be hooked. So why not learn how to make it at home? 

    You don't even need to live in a cold climate to pull off this maple taffy on snow recipe

     

  • 07 of 07
    maple-taffy-snow-do-don't-etiquette-buzz-productions-getty--.jpg
    ••• Buzz Productions / Getty Images

    There is a right way to partake in maple taffy on snow. And there's a wrong way