OTTAWA, March 28, 2023 – The Vanier Museopark welcomed Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe earlier today for the grand opening of the new Vanier Sugar Shack, which will be receiving visitors again as of April 5, 2023. The Sugar Shack was closed for two seasons after being destroyed by arson on August 27, 2020.
“It is with great joy, happiness and pride that the Vanier Museopark team welcomes you to the new Vanier Sugar Shack,” said Madeleine Meilleur, Executive Director of the Vanier Museopark, at the inauguration. “Throughout the reconstruction process, from the fire to the opening, we saw the commitment of the community and felt that they wanted, just as much as we did, a new sugar shack to be built again on the heritage site of the White Fathers’ domain. Today, we are pleased to present the fourth sugar shack in Richelieu Park, a modern shack that still retains its old charm.”
“This sugar shack is a priceless jewel for the community of Vanier, but also for the City of Ottawa,“ said Jonathan Paquette, President of the Vanier Museopark Board of Directors. “We are excited to be able to open the dining room during the sugaring season, in time for the Sugar Festival which will be greeting many visitors over the coming weekend.”
The reconstruction of the Vanier Sugar Shack began on April 13, 2022. What was left of the old foundation had to be completely torn down to build the new structure on a new and stable foundation. Eleven months later, the Vanier Museopark proceeded with the opening of the shack’s dining room. Since work was still in progress in the maple syrup production section, we had to wait another year to experience the first real sugar season of the new Vanier Sugar Shack.
Some interesting facts about the new Vanier Sugar Shack:
The Vanier Museopark wishes to recognize the outstanding work of Maylan Construction Service throughout the reconstruction project. The cost to rebuild the Sugar Shack is just over $1 million. This project would not have been possible without the support of the City of Ottawa, the federal and provincial governments and donations from the community.
History of the Richelieu Park sugar shack
Built in 1939 by the White Fathers of Africa, the original shack served to ensure a certain self-sufficiency for the group. In the early 1960s, they modernized their facility by building a second, more spacious sugar shack on the same site. The White Fathers left Vanier in 1976 and the production of maple syrup ceased at the same time in Richelieu Park. In the mid-1980s, the City of Vanier installed its City Hall in the buildings of Richelieu Park. The mayor at the time, Gisèle Lalonde, had the idea of reviving the sugaring parties to bring the community together and celebrate maple syrup artisanship, a French Canadian tradition. About ten years later, the group Action Vanier took over the organization of the Sugar Festival and the management of the sugar shack. A third sugar shack was built by a host of volunteers and inaugurated in 1998. Action Vanier upholds the sugaring tradition in Vanier until the winter of 2011. Since the 2012 sugar season, it is the Vanier Museopark who is responsible for perpetuating this tradition. The 2023 Sugar Shack is the fourth sugar shack on the White Fathers’ domain. It remains the only urban sugar shack in North America. Built in the heart of a dense 17.5-acre maple forest with over 500 taps, the Vanier Sugar Shack produces approximately 500 litres of maple syrup each sugaring season.
About the Vanier Museopark
The Vanier Museopark is a non-profit organization located in the heart of Vanier, a popular neighbourhood near downtown Ottawa. It celebrates the rich heritage and history of its community. Through its exhibits, talks, workshops, school programs and interpretive tours, the Vanier Museopark allows curious people of all ages – and all cultures – to discover and learn about the habits and customs of the local Francophonie. It is the only French-language museum in Ottawa and one of the few Canadian museums outside Quebec devoted entirely to the Francophonie. The Vanier Museopark also operates an authentic sugar shack in the heart of an urban sugar bush, the only one of its kind in the world. It also hosts the Sugar Festival, a family-friendly annual event that promotes the culture of maple syrup as well as Franco-Ontarian and Aboriginal artists. Proud of its roots, the Vanier Museopark has been anchored in the community since its creation in 2004. www.museoparc.ca
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For additional information, visuals or questions, please contact:
Manager, Communications and Marketing, Vanier Museopark