All posts by Mike DeHaan

Find an Ontario Maple Syrup Festival near Toronto in 2015

Ontario Maple Syrup festivals are an annual tradition, celebrating a natural sweetener and a great Canadian flavour. Where can you find a maple syrup festival near Toronto in the early spring of 2015?

(Updated March 9, 2015). Toronto weather has begun to cooperate with maple syrup production! Daytime high temperatures are above freezing, while the nights plunge back below freezing. Weather forecasts predict this trend will continue for a while, so the sap should be running at these southern Ontario maple syrup festivals. (And now back to the original article…).

First, just when are they held? And just how do we get maple syrup?

"Collecting Maple Sap for Maple Syrup" image by Bobolink (Robert Taylo) under CC license
“Collecting Maple Sap for Maple Syrup” image by Bobolink (Robert Taylo) under CC license

Early Spring Temperatures Make the Sap Run for Maple Syrup

Deciduous trees store sap, a watery sugar solution, in their roots for the winter. The sap had been drained away from the leaves in the autumn. The trees then prepare to bud their spring leaves by pumping the sap back up in early spring.

A specific type of tree, the Sugar Maple, has the sweetest sap, with up to 2% sugar. (Some other varieties can be tapped, but you have to boil off more water to get similar syrup). By hammering a small tap, or metal tube, into the tree as winter begins changing to spring, some sap can be drained from the sugar maple tree. Collect the sap, “reduce” it by boiling off most of the water, and you’ve got maple syrup. Evaporate even more water to create maple sugar.

Reducing the water content concentrates both the sugar and the unique maple flavour.

See “Making Maple Syrup” for more details.

Timing the Traditional Maple Syrup Festival

Farmers depend on weather conditions for crops to ripen; the they harvest the bounty when the plants are ready. In the same way, the person working a sugar bush only taps the trees when the sap is running. The ideal conditions require several days with the high temperatures above freezing, probably 5°C (41°F) or more, but below-freezing temperatures at night. The sap might run for a few weeks, but only if the temperatures fluctuate properly.

Modern Ontario maple syrup festivals require forward planning to coordinate vendors with civic infrastructure. This can challenge the people harvesting the sap.

The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

Let’s start with perhaps the best-known Ontario maple syrup festival, the Elmira syrup festival. Elmira is a small town in southern Ontario, west of Toronto, Mississauga, and Guelph; and north of Kitchener-Waterloo. Frugal shoppers should find bargains for locally prepared maple syrup in Elmira (even if it does not “cut your grocery bill in half” overall). They also sell a variety of other foods to keep you happy for the day.

The 2015 Elmira maple syrup festival will be held on March 28, from 7am-4pm. Check the map in that site for detailed directions once you’re in Elmira.

"Map to Elmira Ontario" image by Mike DeHaan via Google Maps
“Map to Elmira Ontario” image by Mike DeHaan via Google Maps

Three Maple Syrup Festivals near Toronto

One web site covers three festivals near Toronto: at Bruce’s Mills; the Kortwright Centre; and the Terra Cotta Centre. Admission is under $10/person, plus HST; they recommend buying tickets online. Each site offers different programs on their own schedules; but they all serve pancakes and syrup for breakfast (at an extra cost).

The Bruce’s Mills Conservation Centre‘s maple sugar festival runs from Feb. 28 until April 6, 2015 but only Wed.-Sundays. The maple syrup demonstrations are held on weekends and during March Break, from 10am – 4:30pm; but I’d phone ahead (416-661-6600) to make reservations and be sure of just what’s on tap that day.

Find Bruce’s Mills at 3291 Stouffville Road in Stouffville, just north of Toronto. I’d take Hwy 404 north, then east on road 14 (which is Stouffville Road), past Warden Ave.

The Kortwright Centre also hosts its festival from Feb. 28 through April 6, and should be open every day. Again, phone ahead (905-832-2289) to be sure of what they offer on any given day. Find 9550 Pine Valley Drive between Major Mackenzie Drive and Rutherford Road, and well west of highway 27 and Islington Ave. but east of Weston Road.

The Terra Cotta Conservation Area‘s festival is only open for March weekends, plus the week of March Break (March 16-20), plus April 3-5. They’re pretty quiet about any special programs or activities, so if the location suits you, be sure to call 1 (800) 367-0890 for their details. The Terra Cotta Conservation Area is at 14452 Winston Churchill Blvd. in Halton Hills. I might start from Acton, take Main St. (Hwy 25) NW to the Halton-Erin Road (45), turn NE and then go SE on route Winston Churchill Blvd (19).

Venture Further Afield to Bronte Creek for Maple Syrup Month

Bronte Creek Provincial Park’s web page has several sections, including the map. They don’t say much about why “March is Maple Syrup Month”, but it is open every day except Christmas.

Bronte Creek Park is south-west of Oakville; I’d take Hwy 25 north from the QEW/Hwy 403.

Buying Maple Syrup and Maple Syrup Recipes Online

If you missed out on buying Elmira maple syrup, order certified organic maple syrup from Quebec via Amazon Canada. This maple syrup product is amber grade, between the light and dark shades of maple syrup.

Who wants maple syrup recipes so you can go beyond flapjacks and syrup? Amazon Canada offers “The Maple Syrup Cookbook 2: 40 More Easy, Delicious & Healthy Maple Syrup Recipes for Breakfast Lunch & Dinner (Maple SuperFoods) [Kindle Edition]“. The one very happy reviewer said, “…Anyone who loves this syrup needs to have a copy of this book”.

Looking for More Annual Events or a Holiday in Toronto Canada?

My blog tracks many of the annual Toronto events that I find interesting, free or frugal.

Disclaimer: DeHaan Services has no relationship to the organizer(s); I am not reimbursed for writing this article. However, DeHaan Services does write web site or advertising copy for clients. Our skills are demonstrated in online articles in Decoded Science, Decoded Pregnancy and other online sites. That’s why DeHaan Services highlights those online articles on this site.

Click the “Toronto Events” category at the bottom of the right-hand column for recent articles in this category. Thanks!

Thanks for reading about maple syrup festivals in Ontario, near Toronto.

Why Write Two Running Tips for Cold Weather?

Why did I write “Two Cold Weather Running Tips from Two Frigid Days” in my DeHaan Fitness blog? To fill a gap I noticed in other articles on that subject!

Why should I mention that article here? Since this site promotes my writing, this lets me explain about changing my writing style for different situations.

"A Halifax Harrier (UK) Demonstrates Cold Weather Running" image by AdamKR under CC license
"A Halifax Harrier (UK) Demonstrates Cold Weather Running" image by AdamKR under CC license

Why Write a Pair of Cold Weather Running Tips?

As I explain in my DeHaan Fitness post, most of the other articles recommend “the right cold weather running gear”. That may help someone who is beginning running in winter. At that stage in my journey to fitness, I simply wore what I had. That included a cotton T-shirt, sweat pants, sweatshirt, a really old overcoat, an old toque and worn-out gloves. Now that I’ve earned some technical fabric T-shirts, and bought proper running pants and jackets, I’m much less likely to perspire heavily and then freeze.

But everyone else suggests buying the right clothing for running in the cold. So I wrote different tips for running.

My article relates two running tips for cold weather that one might not find elsewhere. Probably they have been suggested by others; but they felt rather new to me when I thought of them.

Why Publicize my Article on Cold Weather Running Tips?

As a freelance writer, my task is to convey my client’s message in a “voice” that authentically represents that person or company.

For example, a service company may want to project how helpful they are, and the results they can achieve. Perhaps each section of an article should include a “call to action”, such as “contact us to learn more”. A professional tone may be needed; or perhaps one of reassurance and comfort.

By contrast, when I write for Decoded Science, my articles blend my insight into the topic with the tone and style of that web site. Many other science articles adopt a passive voice: “The experiment was performed successfully, but significant capital expenditures were accrued”. That’s not the Decoded Science style (thank goodness!), but one must adapt to a publication’s requirements.

I’ve deliberately chosen an informal first-person voice for my DeHaan Fitness articles. That site provides some of my own views and experiences.

By contrast, the Toronto events covered in this site are usually written before the event. For example, I do not recount “what I did for March Break”; instead, my article covers what you might plan to do, locally, with your own family.

Why am I publicizing the article I wrote about a pair of tips for cold weather running? In part, to inform prospective clients that I can write in different styles. Use my contact information in the right-hand column when you need some ghost-writing for your business!

However, this publicity is also a public service announcement to other runners (and cyclists, hikers and outdoors enthusiasts) who may have the same problem as the young man I met while running in the cold the other week.

Thanks for reading about why I wrote an article with two running tips for cold weather.

2015 St Patricks Day Parade and Races in Toronto

The St Patricks Day Parade in Toronto is an annual spring event, with a growing complement of road races. Here’s your guide to the 2015 St Patricks Day Parade in Toronto along with two runs.

Of course, St. Patrick’s Day actually falls on March 17; it’s a tradition as Irish as shamrocks and good luck.

"Shamrocks for St Patricks Day" by puamelia under CC license
“Shamrocks for St Patricks Day” by puamelia under CC license

The 2015 St Patricks Day Parade in Toronto

On Sunday March 15, 2015, the annual Toronto St. Patricks Day Parade will begin at noon, immediately following the start of the inaugural Shamrock & Sneakers 4Km Fun Run.

This St Patricks Day Parade begins marching east on Bloor St. from St. George St. It heads south on Yonge St.; then turns west on Queen St.; to end at University Avenue.

The outgoing Toronto Chief of Police, Bill Blair, will serve as the Grand Marshall. The annual St Patricks Day Parade in Toronto is free to attend.

The parade’s sponsor is the St. Patrick’s Parade Society of Toronto.

The Shamrock & Sneakers 4Km Fun Run

2015 sees the first edition of the Shamrock & Sneakers 4Km Fun Run, in collaboration with the Cabbagetown Youth Centre. The run starts at noon and essentially leads the 2015 St Patricks Day Parade in Toronto. (The route is about three and a quarter kilometres by my reckoning on an online map, so you can certainly push your pace).

This is a charity race in support of the Cabbagetown Youth Centre.

The cost is $20/teen or $30/adult online; but free for children 12 & under!), or add $10 to register on race day from 10:30-11:30am. (Younger children are still free). Note that even the free children must register for this event; we all know that the race organizers have to

The run starts at noon and essentially leads the parade. Find details and registration links online at the official “Cabbagetown Youth St. Patrick’s Day Run” page.

The Achilles St. Patrick’s Day Run in Toronto

The Achilles St. Patrick’s Day Run is another annual spring Toronto event, and supports the Achilles Canada charity which provides sports opportunities for physically challenged people. Pre-register online through the official “Achilles St. Patrick’s Day Run” web page.

You should register before midnight on Monday March 9; or right now, since the Achilles 5K in Toronto has been a sell-out for the last decade!

Pick up race kits from Thursday through Saturday at the Leon’s Furniture store on Bremner Blvd.; you cannot get your kit on Sunday morning.

The race route runs west along Bremner, north on Spadina Ave., west on Wellington, turns around at Yonge St. and returns the same way. The run starts at 10:30am. Eager spectators could take in both this Achilles St Patrick’s Day Run as well as the St Patrick Parade’s finish on Queen St. West, just a few blocks north.

The 2015 Ontario March Break Includes St Patricks Day

Ontario’s Ministry of Education sets the March Break schedule; by happy chance St. Patrick’s Day is in the middle of spring break 2015. Check my recent “Enjoy a Frugal Toronto March Break 2015” for inexpensive family activities from the March 14-15 weekend, through March Break 2015, and on through the following weekend.

Are There Irish Pubs in Toronto for Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations?

(Added March 2, 2015) I once started an article listing Irish pubs in Toronto. That required dividing the city into five zones, (NE, NW, SE, SW and downtown) simply to avoid making a single huge list. Even so, the number of restaurants in Toronto boasting of their Irish heritage made this  an infeasible recreational project to maintain, even for people wanting to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in Toronto with green beer and Gaelic music.

You might not see an ad on this page for an Irish restaurant in Toronto, but that’s okay. Fire up your search engine, paste in “best Irish pub in Toronto”, and prepare for a million hits. Hmmm, maybe add in your neighbourhood (“downtown Toronto Irish pub”) or a street name. There, you’ve found something… or a million somethings. I’d suggest going to a local Irish alehouse for a frugal taxi ride home.

Proper Irish Attire for St. Patrick’s Day: A Kelly Green Hoodie

(Added Aug. 1, 2015). Online retailer Ice Jerseys offers kelly green pullover hoodies that are perfect for St. Patricks’ Day. The front has a white shamrock and the city’s name. Here’s a link to their hoodie for St. Patrick’s Day in Toronto.

Three Kindle Books for Saint Patrick’s Day

Amazon’s Kindle books cover a range of topics for Saint Patrick’s Day. This list shows links for Canadians (and adds the USA’s link in brackets). This list is sorted by price, but they are all under $5 Canadian at press time.

Looking for More Annual Events or a Holiday in Toronto Canada?

You can find more annual events in Toronto for many weekends.

My blog notes many of the annual Toronto events that I find interesting, with the focus on free or frugal things to do in Toronto. I especially like to cover summer attractions and special events in Toronto Canada; but especially for Canadian holidays.

Disclaimer: DeHaan Services has no relationship to the organizer(s); I am not reimbursed for writing this article. (The site is monetized; buy something through an ad and I should earn a commission). However, DeHaan Services does write web site or advertising copy for clients. Our skills are demonstrated in online articles in Decoded Science and Decoded Pregnancy.

Click the “Toronto Events” category at the bottom of the right-hand column for recent articles by category.

Thanks for reading about the St Patricks Day 2015 Parade in Toronto.