group gathered around an interpretive display in a maple sugar bush

The first weekend of the 2022 edition of Cataraqui Conservation’s Maple Madness was highlighted by warm weather, enthusiastic crowds, and the imbibing of lots of tasty pancakes and syrup.

panckes being flipped on the grill

After an absence of two years due to the restrictions enacted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maple Madness returned to the grounds of the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation area over the weekend of March 5 and 6. Certain safety measures are still in place, including pre-registration and masking, but these did little to dampen the enjoyment of those who flocked to the sugar bush.

On Saturday, March 5, 832 people made it out and on March 6, with the rainy morning and high winds, numbers were a bit lower with 515. Still a great start for the return of the program. It was busy right form the get go on Saturday with a group of 160 Queen’s University MBA students coming out en masse to take part in the festivities. Between the two days, 1,473 pancakes were consumed. Maple lollipops and maple candy also sold well throughout the weekend.

people gathered around an interpretive display

Cataraqui Conservation staff reported very positive feedback from visitors, many of whom expressed their gratitude that Maple Madness has returned. As always, a popular focal point is the First Nations presentation by Paul Carl, who instructs observers on how indigenous peoples in our area turned ‘sweet water’ from maple trees into maple sugar, including the technique of using hot rocks to boil the sap. Other stations demonstrate how this process evolved over time, up to the present day.

Maple Madness continues for the remaining three weekends in March, as well as every day throughout March Break (March 14 to 18), from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $5 for adults, $3.50 for children (registration required).

demonstartion at a maple syrup display

There are a number of fun, family-friendly interactive activities and amenities to enjoy back in the sugar bush, including:

  • Self-guided Sugar Bush tour. Visit our interpretive stations where staff, students, and community volunteers will teach you about the process of making maple syrup. (closes at 3 p.m.)
  • Story Walk: take our walking route and enjoy fun information stations while walking back to the Sugar Bush (20 to 30-minute walk).
  • Wagon rides: Pick-up and drop off at the Outdoor Centre and the top of the hill at the Sugar Bush. First wagon is at 9 a.m. and last wagon back to the sugar bush is at 2:30 p.m.
  • Sugar Shack: Pancakes, hot and cold drinks available for sale.
  • Maple Shop at the Outdoor Centre: maple syrup, candy, and merchandise for sale.

To keep visitors and staff safe, there is a limit on how many people we can welcome each day. Online registration is required to save your spot. Please, do not book multiple dates "just in case" so everyone will have a chance to experience Maple Madness. Walk-ins will not be accommodated, please do not show up to Maple Madness without registering first.

For more information, or to sign up for your visit, see Or call, 613-546-4228 ext. 222.

evaporator - making maple syrup