This time last week I was packing my bags for #LetsGoMaple, a sponsored two-day/three-night trip with 15 other Canadian bloggers to explore Ontario’s Lake Country (Orillia/Rama/Oro-Medonte and area, about a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Ottawa). As someone who struggles with anxiety (social and otherwise), I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I needn’t have been. At the risk of sounding sappy, my travel companions and hosts were as sweet and warm as the maple syrup we poured over our pancakes at Shaw’s Sugar Bush. Which made trying small things loom less large, and a lot easier. Come along and see some of the fun and delicious goodness the area has to offer.
Our first stop: Shaw’s Sugar Bush, a family farm that’s been making maple syrup since 1904. Shaw’s offers horse-drawn wagon rides, taffy on the snow and a mean pancake breakfast topped with syrup produced in-house from the sap of some 4,000 maple trees.
Fifth-generation owner Tom Shaw gave us a tour of the farm and took us through the syrup-making process from tree to table.
Shaw’s uses an extensive tubing system to collect some 160,000 litres of sap each year. (The sap to syrup ratio is about 40 to 1.)
Bucket collection is far less efficient, but there’s one available for demonstration purposes. You can see the sap looks just like water.
Breakfast is served daily from mid-February to mid-April. We feasted on pancakes, sausages, french toast, coffee and maple tea and Shaw’s own maple syrup, served warm. Syrup, barbecue sauce and other maple products are available to purchase in the gift shop. (Of course I brought some home with me!)
The hearty breakfast was exactly what we needed to fuel our adventures at Horseshoe Resort. In addition to downhill and cross-country skiing (29 runs and 45 kilometres of groomed trails), the resort offers numerous activities for solo travellers and families of all skill levels.
While some hit the cross-country trails, Ride Guides Cycling Adventures got the rest of us outfitted for some fat biking (that is, biking on bikes with fat tires). One guide lead the pack while another brought up the rear, ensuring that everyone was moving along and offering encouragement along the way.
And from the bikes to snowshoes. I’d never tried it before and was surprised how lightweight they are, and relatively easy to walk in. Granted the snow was pretty packed down — somebody ordered the perfect conditions for us!
And after snowshoeing, snow tubing! I was afraid I’d break my camera and didn’t take any pictures, but I’ll share links to other bloggers’ posts as they go up so you can see some of the shenanigans.
Sandi captured the first pizza out of the oven — a beauty Marghertia pie with San Marzano tomato, fior di latte and fresh basil.
The Romano Balsamic was also a favourite with caramelised onions, roasted garlic, fior di latte, arugula, romano cheese and a sweet balsamic glaze.
Our third night saw us wined and dined by The Grape & Olive Wine & Martini Bistro (again in Orillia), followed by a truffle making demonstration. I’ve been craving another piece of their flourless chocolate tart ever since — omg I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
We were also treated to a private tour and art lesson the the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH). As the community’s cultural hub it offers unique exhibitions, tours, art lessons and school programs, as well as a research room equipped with publications on a number of general local and national topics of interest and access to ancestry.ca, where visitors can research research family genealogy.
Current exhibitions include Renewal, a non-juried art show in celebration of International Women’s Day.
Stacey‘s maple-themed art.
OMAH is housed in what was originally a federal post office and customs house designed in 1892 by architect Thomas Fuller, who later worked on the Parliament Buildings. In the mid-1950s to the late 1970s it was used as a police station, with the cell blocks located in the basement as you see here.
Sandi had a number of falls during our visit (curiously, none at OMAH but on the slopes and snow tubing) so we locked her up in the cell where she’d be safer. Is she still there? Check back later this week to find out and follow the rest of our adventures, as we explore the great indoors that is Casino Rama Resort.
A special thank you to Julie, Stacey, Jenna, Natasha, Lisa and Jenn for all of your work in putting our stay together, and to everyone (including Julie, Stacey, Jenna, Natasha, Lisa and Jenn!) who made us feel so welcome. I can’t wait to bring my family back to stay and play!
For more on our stay, check out the following posts from my fellow bloggers (I’ll update this list as they’re posted):
Have you visited Ontario’s Lake Country? What would you like to see and do?