The Maple Syrup Museum of Ontario is a sweet spot dedicated to documenting the lengthy history of maple syrup production and consumption. The quaint museum resides in the basement of a multi-use building, sharing the space with a museum about electricity (complete with a lightning strike and thunder clap soundtrack) and a model railway flanked by a history of St. Jacobs.
Though small, the museum provides an immersive history of the maple syrup industry, ranging from interpretations of possible early indigenous production methods to the development of the sugar maple industry in Ontario and surrounding regions in the United States and Canada. It’s essentially packed with everything you’ve ever wanted to see about maple syrup production—and then some.
The displays give you a sense of what it was like in the old days, back when people had to drive a team of horses across the snow-covered ground in March and April to collect buckets of tree sap and transform it into a tasty treat. You’ll spot saws, syrup evaporators, barrels, sap buckets, spiles (the little tubes hammered into the tree to drain the sap), pancake griddles, maple candy molds, and various maple-related photos housed within the space. A wide variety of the ubiquitous maple syrup bottles found on every store shelf within 100 miles of St. Jacobs is also displayed all over the museum, ranging from 50-year-old bottles to those still sold today.
Of particular interest is the cross section of an ancient maple that bares the scars of numerous syrup tapings over its lifetime. Visitors can see the spots where the spiles had been tapped into the tree trunk on no less than 25 occasions, and the associated scars from where these punctures healed as the tree continued to grow.