Vacationing for a few months in Montreal, we plan to make the most of every festival, concert or attraction the city has to offer. With Montreal as our home base, there are many beautiful towns we can drive to in Quebec or Ontario within a few hours, and I would love to share those with you.
It’s certainly a change to live in the city and to be able to walk everywhere or hop the metro, after spending most of our lives jumping in the car to drive to work, shopping, or for a coffee. Living downtown, we are getting more exercise and that’s great, and hopefully a justifiable excuse to try a lot of local Québécois specialities…over and over again.
So yesterday, John offered a field trip in the car. Yes! Excited as a Jack Russell when he hears the leash, I immediately responded in the affirmative. John had planned a surprise trip to a historic Québécois sugar shack. I imagined a family entertainment type maple syrup tapping activity, filled with kids, pumpkins and caramel apples. Aux contraire. This French Canadian maple grove is so much more. Sucrerie de la Montagne is about an hours drive west of downtown Montreal near Rigaud, Quebec. The literal translation is candy mountain so I knew good things were in store.
Per their advertisement, La Sucrerie is designated an official “Site du Patrimoine Québécois” or Québec Heritage site. The sugar shack is located in the middle of a 120-acre forest of century-old maples atop Mont Rigaud and transports visitors back in time to a momentary glimpse of life as it was for Québec and Canadian pioneers.
Although the Sucrerie de la Montagne sign was missing at the road, we knew we had arrived when we saw two huge Belgian horses being harnessed to a wagon.
Walking up the main path towards delicious smoky fire smells, we passed a number of rustic wooden cabins that we later found were rentable accommodations, as well as a few cabins designated as general store, sucrerie and boulangerie. Things were looking even better!
Soon we found ourselves in front of a smokey fire pit across from the main barn. I can imagine it packed with visitors on a crisp afternoon, sitting around the fire drinking hot toddies and watching the brilliant leaves fall.
We explored the outbuildings and met the baker in the boulangerie as he was getting ready to fire up the wood stoves to bake fresh country bread. Once inside the main barn, we found ourselves in a homey reception area filled with authentic wood stoves, a huge rustic bar, and old family photos. We were greeted by Stefan, son of Pierre Faucher. Stefan, like his father, has impressive hair and beard, and dresses as a traditional Québécois pioneer. He is friendly, attentive and an all around fantastic host, checking each table numerous times to make sure diners are happy and well fed, making suggestions, and later providing entertainment and tours.
The first order of business for us was lunch. The Sucrerie offers a traditional hearty Québécois menu. We had not fasted in preparation or cut a few cords of wood to work up a lumberjack’s appetite, so we chose a few items à la carte at Stefan’s suggestion. We enjoyed the Mountaineer’s pea soup, fresh bread, pancakes (similar to crepes and perfect for soaking up their thick maple syrup), crispy back bacon, maple bière…and SUGAR pie – oh my! Everything we had was fresh, delicious and mighty tasty. We know that we will be back to try the rest of the menu. It was just that good.