The Vanier Museopark Sugar Shack’s sweet future

By Christiane Kirkland

Vanier Museopark Sugar Shack badly damaged by fire
The sugar shack at Vanier Museopark was badly damaged in a fire in August 2020 and ultimately had to be torn down. Plans are well underway to rebuild. Photo archives

There is excitement in the air! The Vanier Museopark Sugar Shack, which burnt down in August 2020, will be rebuilt! Plans include enlargement to accommodate extensive programming.

It was a delight to interview Museopark Executive Director Madeleine Meilleur, who manages operations of the site with a team of five employees and volunteers. She was happy to share with me the status of the reconstruction. Her mandate is to implement the strategic plan put in place to rebuild the shack. She is in charge of two major projects: renovating the Museopark Gallery and reconstructing the Sugar Shack.

As for the shack, plans have been approved and her team is waiting for the building permit. The general contractor has been chosen and the necessary funds are in place. Madeleine is thrilled to say that not only will the shack be rebuilt, but also it will be enlarged! An increased size is well-justified, considering the new by-laws concerning fire safety, accessibility, public safety, and the extensive programming and activities involving the community of all ages.

None of that would have been possible without the help of the City of Ottawa and donators/contributors. The total cost of the new enlarged building is $800,000 of which $30,000 was raised from donations. Madeleine and her team are grateful for the generous financial and moral support they’ve received.  

As for the design of the building, the look will practically remain the same, adding an expansion. It will be the fourth sugar shack since the foundation of the sugar bush in 1939.

Now that the building codes have evolved, and for safety reasons, the boiler room and the bottling area will have their own separate rooms, behind glass, so that the public can watch the processes.

The enhanced shack will have a small museum that will add a nice touch to the Museopark.

Everyone is curious to know if the new building will be ready for the sugar season 2022 . . . According to Madeleine, the project will not be ready for the upcoming season because a zoning change still needs approval.

However, if the city’s health and public safety officials give them the go ahead, they will hold the Maple Festival, allowing people to see the work in progress and maybe take part in some outdoor activities in the forest.

Thank you to Madeleine and your team for making this unique iconic structure come alive again.

Rebuilding the sugar shack will certainly give local citizens and many visitors a sweet flavor of what is to come!