Ottawa taps into sugar shack fun with Sugar Lumberfest

Sold-out event is part of sesquicentennial celebrations happening in nation's capital

The Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park got a little sweeter Saturday as it played host to Ottawa’s first urban sugar shack, part of Ottawa 2017’s Ignite 150 event series to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

The idea behind Sugar Lumberfest was to bring the cabane à sucre experience out the woods and to our downtown, for one day only. It worked; the event was a sellout.

Attendees of the $55-a-ticket event chowed down at communal dining tables on a three-course Quebec-style menu planned by Chef Jean-Philippe Ménard of Le Ritual Restaurant in Gatineau. It featured pork rillette, foie gras, pork shoulder confit, crispy pork rinds, barbecued spare ribs, turkey drumstick and baked beans with molasses, all washed down with some Beau’s beer.

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There were early and late afternoon and evening sittings, allowing for approximately 1,600 people to attend throughout the day.

Mayor Jim Watson shared the second of four sittings with Rideau-Vanier Ward Coun. Mathieu Fleury and Alta Vista Ward Coun. Jean Cloutier, co-chairs of the Ottawa 2017 task force, and Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko. Also joining them at their long table were Guy Laflamme, head of Ottawa 2017, and Ottawa-Orléans Liberal MPP Marie-France Lalonde.

VIPs at Sugar Lumberfest

The bright and spacious hall was filled with live fiddle music and tunes by Stompin’ Tom Connors, with no shortage of red and black checkered shirts in the crowd.

Outside under a blue, sunny sky, attendees could find their inner lumberjack (or lumberjill) with such games as log throwing and old-fashioned log sawing.

“I wouldn’t want to have to build a house like that,” quipped David Vanderzon after relying on a crosscut saw to slice a log with Derrick Burns.

Later, 89-year-old Doug McBurney was out there cutting wood with his son, Steve McBurney. The outing was a birthday gift to the senior and his wife, Elsie, 97, from his son and daughter-in-law, Melanie Adams.

Derrick Burns


Doug McBurney

The axe throwing station set up by BATL (Backyard Axe Throwing League) was very popular, and a good outlet for anybody needing to release their urbanite rage.

Available at the family-friendly event was a hot chocolate station as well as maple taffy made from pouring boiling syrup on fresh snow and twirling it onto popsicle sticks.

Organizers are looking to hold Sugar Lumberfest again next year and are already talking about adding a fifth dinner seating to accommodate more people.

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