Rigaud, QC: Spring, syrup and celebration at an authentic Quebecois sugar shack
Pierre and his son Stéfan Faucher are bona fide Quebecois lumberjacks, right down to their matching beards. And each spring, they tap 1,500 sugar maples spread over 48 hectares to make syrup.
The Sucrerie de la Montagne, which turned 33 this year, is open all year long, but le temps des sucres, or sugaring-off season, is the time to visit.
At this old-school encampment in Rigaud, about 37 miles from Montreal, take a sleigh ride, learn a little about the sugaring process, and hang out in the syrup sauna (where maple water tapped from trees is boiled down into syrup—it takes 40 liters of the stuff to make each liter of syrup).
Head to the dining room for a feast of Sucrerie specialties, all very Quebecois, all designed to stick to a lumberjack's ribs after he's been tapping trees in sub-zero temperatures all day (pea soup, meat pies, bacon, sausage, bacon, and bacon). Jugs of maple syrup are placed on the long communal tables, and you'll quickly learn to pour the golden liquid over everything, as musicians on a stage nearby make a festive racket with wooden spoons and hot fiddles.
Then strap on your snowshoes (provided!) and repair to one of four cabins, furnished with authentic touches like oil lamps, claw-footed tubs and massive stone fireplaces.