A Day at Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area

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Tapping the maple syrup at Bruce's Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland
Tapping the maple syrup at Bruce's Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland

On April 6, 2014, a friend and I were looking for something to do outside since the weatherman was saying we were going to have a beautiful sunny day with a high of 12 degrees!! We have had a very long and cold winter and were looking forward to spending such a day outdoors, soaking in as much vitamin D as possible. I noticed that the Bruce’s Mill Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival was running until Sunday, April 13. I had not been since grade school (let’s just say that was some time ago) and wanted to pick up some pure maple syrup considering that I love pancakes.

Preparing the maple syrup at Bruce's Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland
Preparing the maple syrup at Bruce’s Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland

Off we drove early Sunday morning to arrive in time for the first tour of the day at 10 a.m.  Located near Steeles Avenue East and Warden Avenue in Stouffville, it took only 30 minutes from southeast Toronto to get there. When we arrived at 9:45 a.m., there was already a lineup of cars waiting to enter. Admission for Adults is $10, HST included, $6.50 for kids and seniors and children under 4 are free when accompanied by their parents. Your admission fee includes parking and use of the park facilities, hiking trails, petting zoo, sap samplings and maple syrup demonstrations. Meals, maple syrup products, horse-drawn wagon rides, pony rides, and face painting are available for a nominal fee.

Petting zoo at Bruce's Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland
Petting zoo at Bruce’s Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland
Pony rides at Bruce's Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland
Pony rides at Bruce’s Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland

We started with the zoo, petting sheep, goats and lamas, then moved to the pancake house where we devoured amazing syrupy pancakes, and then took a one-hour, in depth tour provided by a very knowledgeable guide.

Tree Trekking starting soon at Bruce's Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland
Tree Trekking starting soon, photo Sharilene Rowland

Bruce’s Mill has had to change its methods over the years to keep up with production with less manpower required to compete with the big companies, but they keep the remnants around to showcase how maple syrup production used to be done.

Tapping the maple syrup at Bruce's Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland
Tapping the maple syrup at Bruce’s Mill, photo Sharilene Rowland

After being regaled with tales of maple syrup from long ago, we went into the “fire room” where the syrup is made from sap. It takes 40 buckets of sap to make one litre of maple syrup. That’s a lot of sap and many hours to arrive at a tasty, healthy product so I can appreciate paying a little extra.  Of course I purchased a bottle of pure maple syrup, a maple-leaf-shaped sucker made of maple syrup and a jar of maple butter.

Tyrone Mills Ltd., water powered since 1846 and located in Bowmanville, had tables set up around a bonfire selling a variety of honey, homemade jams and scones mixes. I also purchased one of each of these. It was definitely a shopping day for me.

We left around 12 p.m. and there was a line-up of at least 30 cars waiting to enter. Arriving early was the way to go.

Bottom line…while this place is geared more for kids, it did bring out the child inside.