Bringing French culutre to Bonnyville

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Be prepared to get your hands sticky sweet at the annual La Cabane á Sucre du Nord, otherwise known as the Northern Sugar Shack.

For over 40 years the Lakeland has been honouring French-Canadian culture through the annual sugar shack, and that is not about to change anytime soon. On Saturday, March 18, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. families are invited to take part in traditional festivities that are celebrated by Francophone communities across the country.

Just nine kilometres south of Bonnyville, off of Highway 28, families will enter into a whole new world as they witness a maple syrup master in action, while listening to the sounds of local musician and renowned fiddler Daniel Gervais.

“It is one of the very well known French-Canadian traditions. It is basically the celebration of spring,” explained Mireille Lavoie-Beaupre, community officer for the Bonnyville-Cold Lake French Cultural Centre (ACFA).

With spring comes maple tree sap, and although provinces west of Ontario are not prone to the delicacy, it’s still an integral part of the sugar shack.

“We still celebrate the tradition with the means that we have,” added Lavoie-Beaupre. “We don’t have maple trees, so we just bring the syrup and make the toffee on the snow (here).”

Each year, the local event brings in a Plamondon maple syrup expert, who makes sweet treats on-site, known as toffee on the snow.

“That is why people keep coming, is because he makes the best toffee on the snow,” Lavoie-Beaupre said.

While it’s always a favourite among guests, the syrupy delicacies are not the only benefits to hosting the sugar shack. It also serves as an opportunity to bring the community together for a day of sleigh rides, French-Canadian foods, and fiddle music, all while celebrating Franco-Albertan roots.

Tickets will be available for sale at the École Voyageur in Cold Lake, 4 Wing MFRC, and at the ACFA office in Bonnyville.

The sugar shack takes place at Tellier’s farm, located just nine kilometres south of Bonnyville on Township Road 604. Signs will lead the way for families coming out to the event.

Lavoie-Beaupre added, “Bonnyville is influenced by all of the cultures, including the French culture. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we pull from other cultures. When we go to events like this, we realize we are all a little different, but we all blend together and that’s what is beautiful about Bonnyville.”

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