KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel. During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.
When I first moved to Ottawa from Saskatchewan nineteen years ago, one of the things I loved about Ottawa was visiting a sugar bush every March and April to load up on pancakes and maple syrup. Saskatchewan grows and produces many great things but maple syrup is not one of them.
Visiting a sugar bush has now become a tradition for our family. This year, we decided to check out Temple’s Sugar Bush, located on Lanark County Road 15 - Ferguson Falls Road.
The first thing that had made me want to visit the sugar bush was the post and beam timber frame construction of the main building. Built in 2007, the construction style does not use steel and girders with the giant pine beams held in place by hand whittled wood dowels. Entering the main building, I was not disappointed. It felt like I had stepped into the Chateau Montebello or an elegant wood frame construction from a hundred years ago.
Our son, David, also liked the architecture but was more interested in the buffet. We were seated at communal tables that allowed for easy conversation. The buffet was expansive and delicious. There were the items you would expect like pancakes, sausages, beans and eggs. Other less obvious items included salad, breakfast biscuits and yogurt giving variety to the traditional buffet Of course, the most important feature was the maple syrup which is made on-site.
The best part of the buffet was the taste! Nothing was from a can and tasted homemade. You didn’t see shrivelled up sausages that had been under a heat lamp for hours. The chef brought out fresh items regularly keeping everyone happy.
I also appreciated the friendly and prompt service. Even though there was a large crowd, there were enough staff on hand to make sure everyone’s coffee cups were full.
One other aspect I enjoyed was that there was not loud music being played or over the loudspeakers allowing for conversation without having to yell. My dad was visiting us from Saskatchewan so having an animated conversation together with David and my wife, Sandy is a memory I will treasure.
After our hearty meal, we had a chance to meet Charles Temple who shared with us his story. “I had dropped out of the University of Toronto and wasn’t sure what to do with my life,” offered Temple. “I remembered fond childhood memories of making maple syrup at my mother’s family farm. I decided I wanted to set up my own sugar camp. I started off modestly and eventually had my own farm with a sugar bush. Things evolved and we eventually purchased our current property with a vow to open a restaurant. That has brought us to today with our restaurant.”
Mr. Temple or as he preferred to be called, Charlie, was also kind enough to show us where the sap from the maple trees was boiled and the process to turn it into maple syrup.
We wrapped our time at Temple’s by walking the nature trail to try and burn off some of the calories we had gained at the buffet. We walked long enough to probably justify two pancakes and one sausage. Oh well, that will mean just one more bike ride in the spring.
If you go - Temple’s Sugar Bush restaurant is typically open from March 1 - end of April. The rest of the year, the facility serves as a popular wedding venue. The buffet is served weekends and holidays with the menu being offered Wednesday - Friday. Expect larger crowds on the weekend but when we went, there wasn’t a lineup and people were served promptly. There is also a small store on-site selling maple products.
If you want to extend your trip, there is a cheese store and Amish furniture store in nearby Balderson. The historic town of Perth is about a twenty minute drive from Temple’s.
Disclaimer: Stephen and his family were comped for their meal at Temple’s Sugar Bush, but all opinions are his own.