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Photos: The sap is running at Maple Hill Farm

Families flock to farm for taffy-tasting, horse-drawn sleigh rides

If you’d like to get out and enjoy maple syrup season, Maple Hill Farm in Hanmer is inviting the public to visit this coming weekend.

Families also flocked to the farm this past Sunday, enjoying maple taffy on snow, horse-drawn sleigh rides courtesy of Wagon Wheel Ranch, tours of the farm, food and more.

Formerly Despatie Maple Farm, the property was purchased four years ago by Michel and Céline Larivière, who built a family home there and upgraded the farm’s infrastructure, including a modern tubing system for the sap and a new production barn.

Although some of the old infrastructure had to be torn down because it was in such a state of disrepair, the original “sugar shack” built by the Despatie family in 1916 still stands on the property.

Michel Larivière said the farm makes about 1,100 litres of syrup per year. 

“With all the automation, although it's really heavy work, it's work that can be done with three or four of us,” he said.

Larivière said he and his wife both grew up in the Valley, and visited the Despatie farm as kids. “When I saw the property, I thought I’d really like to put my hands on it,” he said.

He said it’s great to have the community out to Maple Hill Farm.

“This has been a little hub for the community, especially the Franco-Ontarians, for almost 100 years,” Larivière said. “So there's something about bringing the community back together to celebrate the first harvest of the season that people really like.”

Maple Hill Farm hosts the public again this coming weekend, April 1 and 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

A general admission day pass is $15 per person, or $20 per person with one sleigh ride (with four different time slots to choose from). 

Tickets can be purchased online at Event Brite.

The event is in support of Our Children, Our Future, so monetary donations, as well as diapers and new warm children’s clothes, are gratefully accepted at the gate.

Beyond the family event this coming weekend, Larivière said the farm store is also open Sundays from 12-4 p.m., if people would like to get their hands on some delicious maple products.

The farm is located at 450 Dominion Dr. in Hanmer. Phone 705-561-7112 or email [email protected].

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.


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