Beginnings of the Cabane à Sucre
Cabanes à Sucre, or sugar shacks, are small cabins or groups of cabins located in Eastern Canada and Northern New England. In these cabanes, sap collected from maple trees is boiled into maple syrup. This style of production were developed through a combination of Native American and European innovations. For the next century or so, it remained primarily a family-related cottage industry in Québec. The busier period for sugar shacks is from late October to the end of April when maple sap becomes available. Collection efforts occur during the thawing period of early spring when temperatures are ideal for the sugaring process. Sap collection is usually performed during the first two weeks of April, which has become the focus of an annual spring celebration.
Today, many cabanes are commercially operated and offer reception halls and outdoor activities. Most, however, remain family-owned despite their growing size. They even open to the general public during certain months for their “sugaring off” celebrations.
Traditional “Sugaring Off” Celebrations
At a cabane à sucre, meals traditionally begin with yellow pea soup. Next come savory dishes such as baked ham, omelets, sausages, tourtière, baked beans, cretons, and deep-fried pork rinds. These foods are often cooked with or drizzled in maple syrup. The meal is often the central focus of “Sugaring off” celebrations, as familys and friends gather around for a maple-filled dinner. Beyond eating, activities at sugar shacks vary but can include traditional music and dancing, snowshoeing, and observing the maple syrup-making process.
The FAC Event
Next Saturday, April 1st, the FAC is hosting a Cabane à Sucre event at the Oscar Barn in Hooksett, New Hampshire. To learn more about the maple farm on site, visit this website. From 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, there will be a series of presentation on the sugaring process and how the local farm manages their production. Then, from 6:00 to 7:30, there will be a traditional “Sugaring Off” dinner with tons of traditional foods and, of course, an immense amount of maple syrup. From 7:30 to 10:00, the night will finish off with dancing and music from The Reel McCoys. Tickets for the event are now sold out.