Mural of the Sugar Shack
300 Des Pères Blancs Avenue – Artist: John Ellenberger (2005)
The White Fathers operated a sugar bush in the maple forest on their land. They extracted maple sap to make maple syrup and maple taffy. It takes 40 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup.
The mural illustrates the White Fathers of Africa, in their usual white cassocks, organizing a “sugar party” for schoolchildren and families of the area. They poured thick syrup on the snow which turned into taffy as it cooled.
They poured the sap into metal vats on a horse-pulled sleigh. The sleigh was also used to give schoolchildren and their parents rides in the maple forest.
The White Fathers’ Sugar Shack
Two sugar shacks were built by the White Fathers when they owned land in Vanier. A small shanty was first erected in October 1939, in the northwest corner of the property. The evaporator that was used in this first sugar shack was completed in November of the same year.
The first sugaring off held by the White Fathers took place during the early days of April 1940. The White Fathers continued to make maple syrup each year, using sap obtained from their own maple trees. In 1942, they produced 23 gallons of maple syrup, as well as some maple sugar. Around 1960, a second cabin, both larger and more modern, was built on the same site.
Vanier’s Sugar Festival
The sugaring off tradition started by the White Fathers has been maintained thanks to Vanier’s Sugar Festival. This annual event was launched in the 1980s by the city of Vanier. Each year, thousands of people continue to visit this sugar bush, in its picturesque urban setting, and enjoy the delicacies associated with maple sugar.