gilbertsons pancake house sign

Mouthwatering Maple Magic

Celebrate Spring in Algoma Country in the Sugarbush

Updated: By Melissa Slobodecki

Can you smell that? That is the smell of spring and do you know what comes with the spring season? I’ll give you one guess with a few helpful hints. It’s sticky, it’s sweet and just plain delicious! If you guessed maple syrup then give yourself a pat on the back or better yet reward yourself with that tasty treat!

Now is the ideal time to take a leisurely drive along Highway 17 East. St. Joseph Island is located approximately 40 minutes east of Sault Ste. Marie and on that Island, you will find the things syrup dreams are made of . . . maple trees! With an abundance of maple trees, St. Joseph Island continues to be a large contributor to maple syrup in the province of Ontario.

Maple Syrup Time on the Island

I took the drive out to the Island as the locals like to call it, on a beautiful sunny March Saturday. My destination – Gilbertson’s Pancake House! Upon arrival at Gilbertson’s, I immediately put my name on the waitlist and began salivating at the smell of breakfast goodies cooking in the kitchen. The wait is a perfect time for working up an appetite and browsing in the gift shop. Here you find all things maple including, of course, syrup, butter, hot mustard sauce, bbq sauce, fudge, maple candies, candles, and kitchenware and that list is barely brushing the surface! I came out with a pretty good haul and, of course, I’m sharing, well maybe . . . I mean, it is a 40-minute drive back to the Sault and I might need a snack!

homemade maple syrup products

Heading outside to enjoy the surroundings you can see a steady stream of customers enjoying a free wagon ride (available most Saturdays) to explore the sugar bush. I wandered around the grounds learning about the “old-fashioned” bucket system to make syrup. Who knew it takes 40 litres of sap to make 1 litre of syrup?  Wowsers!

boiling maple sap

A modern-day pipeline is used for syrup making which you can learn about inside the facility. Here you can see the modern methods in action — collecting, storing, boiling and packaging.

Time to Eat

Finally, I hear my name called and it’s time to sit down and peruse the menu! Fluffy pancakes, lightly dusted French toast, waffles with crème Fraiche, peameal bacon, breakfast sausages, maple baked beans, Johnnie cakes . . . my brain is on overload trying to decide! So many items to choose from! How can you pick one? My final decision was pancakes bathing in that sweet maple-y goodness with peameal bacon, fruit cup and a side of maple-baked beans – my eyes bigger than my stomach as my mom always tells me. Heaven on a plate complete with my very own generous supply of maple syrup to enjoy. Just give me a straw and let me sip on that smooth, rich maple syrup all day long.

pancakes with fresh maple syrup gilbertsons

It’s well worth the drive to St. Joseph Island. From the serene peacefulness of the Island to the walk in the wilderness and, of course, the icing on the cake or should I say the syrup on the pancake. . . maple syrup.

gilbertsons pancake house fun

There really is something for everyone to enjoy!

About Melissa Slobodecki

Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Melissa Slobodecki is a Travel Counsellor with the Ontario Travel Information Centre in the Sault. Melissa enjoys travelling and exploring all that Ontario has to offer and sharing her experiences with visitors and locals alike.

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