maple syrup: vocabulary

The tradition of maple syrup making can be attributed to First Nations peoples. They were the first to discover maple syrup and to share their knowledge of the maple syrup–making process. In the past, sap was collected in containers made of birch bark. Today, the tradition continues with modernized equipment.

In Canada, there are four principal maple syrup–producing regions. These include the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. However, maple syrup production is possible in Newfoundland, in Prince Edward Island, on the Prairies and in British Columbia. In the eastern provinces and on the Prairies, maple syrup is produced from the sap of the sugar maple. British Columbia is the only province to produce maple syrup from the sap of the bigleaf maple.

Although the maple syrup season lasts from February to April, you can enjoy maple syrup all year long!

Below is a list of words related to maple syrup.

Vocabulary related to maple syrup

Vocabulary related to maple syrup
Word or expression Meaning, example and French equivalent
bigleaf maple

Meaning: A species of maple tree that grows on the west coast of North America; its sweet sap is used to make maple syrup.

Example: The Alberni Valley is home to an abundance of bigleaf maple trees unique to British Columbia’s West Coast.

French equivalent: érable à grandes feuilles


Meaning: The process of boiling down maple sap into maple syrup.

Example: This year’s maple season yielded 790 gallons of maple syrup from 19 boils.

French equivalent: ébullition


Meaning: A pan or set of pans set over a heat source that boil sap into maple syrup.

Example: Delicious gooey maple syrup is drawn off the evaporator.

French equivalent: évaporateur


Meaning: Information about the colour and taste of maple syrup.

Example: “Golden,” “Amber,” “Dark” and “Very Dark” are different grades of maple syrup.

French equivalent: catégorie

maple butter

Meaning: A spread made from maple syrup that has been boiled, cooled and whipped.

Example: My children love spreading maple butter on toast for breakfast.

French equivalent: beurre d’érable

maple sugar

Meaning: Maple syrup that has been boiled down into granulated sugar.

Example: Sophie sprinkles maple sugar on their oatmeal every morning.

French equivalent: sucre d’érable

maple syrup

Meaning: A concentrated maple sap.

Example: You can pour maple syrup over pancakes and hot cereal, or drizzle it over ice cream.

French equivalent: sirop d’érable

maple taffy, maple taffy on snow

Meaning: Maple syrup that is boiled down, poured over snow and congealed into chewy candy.

Example: Children enjoy rolling up maple taffy onto a stick and chewing on the soft, sticky candy.

French equivalent: tire d’érable, tire d’érable sur la neige


Meaning: A sweet, clear liquid that flows inside a maple tree and is used to make maple syrup.

Example: Every spring, sap runs from the maple trees.

French equivalent: sève

sap run

Meaning: When the sap flows from the maple trees.

Example: The sap run happens in spring when the sap is flowing from the maple trees.

French equivalent: coulée de sève

spile, sap spout

Meaning: A small tube inserted into a maple tree used to carry the sap from the tree to a bucket or pail.

Example: The spile is driven into the maple tree about 1 inch deep so that the sap can flow from it.

French equivalent: chalumeau, chalumeau à sève

sugar bush, sugarbush, maple bush, maple grove

Meaning: A stand of maple trees used for the production of maple syrup.

Example: The Mountsberg sugar bush has been producing maple syrup for more than 150 years.

French equivalent: érablière

sugaring, sugaring off, maple sugaring

Meaning: The process of making maple syrup by taking sap from a tree and boiling it down.

Example: The history of sugaring, turning sap into syrup, goes back to the Indigenous peoples.

French equivalent: acériculture

sugaring season, sugaring-off season, maple syrup season

Meaning: The time of the year when maple sap is running and maple syrup is being made.

Example: Sugaring season begins when daytime temperatures rise above freezing while nighttime temperatures remain below freezing.

French equivalent: le temps des sucres

sugar maple

Meaning: A large tree producing sweet sap that is then used to make maple syrup.

Example: The sugar maple is the national tree of Canada.

French equivalent: érable à sucre

sugar pie

Meaning: A dessert made with maple syrup.

Example: Sugar pie is a traditional French Canadian dessert.

French equivalent: tarte au sucre

sugar shack, sugar house, sap house

Meaning: A small cabin where sap collected from sugar maple trees is boiled into maple syrup.

Example: The children gathered in the sugar shack to watch the sap boil and to keep warm.

French equivalent: cabane à sucre


Meaning: A hole drilled into a maple tree to make it easy to collect sap.

Example: Maple syrup production starts by drilling a taphole in the tree.

French equivalent: entaille


Meaning: The process of going from tree to tree in the sugarbush, drilling holes in the wood and collecting the sap.

Example: The tapping process does not harm the tree.

French equivalent: entaillage

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