Today was all about maple syrup, or in French: sirop d’érable. We journeyed about an hour west of Montréal to Sucrerie de la Montagne; a family owned “sugar shack” that has been producing maple syrup since 1978. Designated an official “Site du Patrimoine Québécois”, or Québec Heritage site, the sugar shack is located in the midst of a 120-acre forest, full of century-old maple trees atop Mont Rigaud. We experienced a glimpse into life as it was for Québec and Canadian pioneers. We met the founder, Pierre Faucher and his son Stefan, who are devoted to respecting the heritage of their forebears and perpetuating authentic Québec traditions in harvesting maple water and turning it into maple syrup. Stefan taught us all about how they turn the water that is tapped from the thousands of trees in the forest every day into maple syrup! Heated by wood fire until it reaches a certain temperature, the now syrup is drained and bottled. Early batches of syrup attract many visitors and is lighter in color than the syrup batches harvested later in the 5-6 week season, which are more dark in color.
After our informative tour, we sat down to a traditional Canadian pioneer lunch…with lots and lots and LOTS of maple syrup!! We were instructed to pour it on nearly every aspect of our lunch. Personally, I found it especially yummy in my coffee! Our family style meal began with homemade bread and pea soup, followed by ham, sausage, maple bacon, meat pie, egg soufflé, mashed potatoes, and Swedish meatballs. Quite the spread! Our meal was accompanied by a traditional Canadian folk singer who taught us all how to play the spoons! We were all fascinated by this new rhythmic instrument and it made our lunch very exhilarating. Oh, and for dessert we experienced tarte au sucre, or sugar pie, a Québec staple. It is just as it sounds…a pie made of caramelized sugar. And of course dessert also included pancakes with an indulgent amount of maple syrup!
We sang a few songs for our host and he showed us how he makes maple taffy…..maple water heated to a higher temperature than syrup and then poured over snow, or in this case a tray of ice, and then wrapped onto a popsicle stick. We all gave it a try and became quite smitten with the sugary treat! Then Stefan opened the gift shop for us and we went crazy! You’ll have to cook up some pancakes when we return tomorrow and give the syrup a try!
On a sugar high, we drove to the Alpine modeled ski resort village, Mont-Tremblant, where we rode the sky gondola up to the mountain’s peak for a stunning view of Lac Tremblant and the surrounding Laurentian Mountains. We took some quick pictures and then took the gondola back down. Then we had time to explore the village on our own and find some dinner. A blues festival that was going on created quite an atmosphere….but we managed to find some nourishment.
We found Mr. Ruiz (our bus driver) and after a long day, finally made it back to our hotel. Everyone was very tired. Tomorrow we journey home…a long bus ride ahead.
The French Canadians have treated us very well and I think all our singers had an exciting and memorable experience here in Québec….but we can’t wait to see our parents!
Bonne nuit! À demain!