For more than forty years, the Kortright Centre for Conservation has been a veritable rural oasis surrounded by urban development.
Situated 10 minutes north of Toronto in the community of Woodbridge, on 325 hectares of pristine woodlands, Kortright Centre combines a natural wonderland with some of the most leading edge sustainable education programs and events in Canada.
The centre hosts 135,000 visitors annually and offers more than 50 environmental education programs for schools and 30 sustainable technology workshops for the public, trades and professionals.
From mid to late-winter however, the focus for many visitors is maple syrup. The Kortright Centre is the go-to place for folks to learn how maple syrup has become a staple of the Canadian identity.
“The maple syrup festival is a long-standing tradition for families across York Region,” said Simone Granieri, spokesperson for the Kortright. “They go down the maple syrup trail and they get to see how maple syrup is made throughout time. It starts with how the Indigenous people made their maple syrup and then you get to see how the early settlers made their maple syrup and finally, how modern farmers make maple syrup.”
The Maple Syrup Festival runs from March 10 to April 12 this year and all tickets must be purchased in advance, online at maplesyrupfest.ca. In addition to learning the heritage of maple syrup production, visitors can take part in games, activities and purchase maple syrup products.
If maple syrup’s not your thing, the Kortright still holds plenty of allure. There’s 16 km of trails that take visitors through a variety of landscapes, including wetlands – the Humber River flows through the Kortright – and mixed forest. It’s a haven for bird watchers, animal trackers and naturalists of all stripes.
“At one point, when the Kortright first opened, it was an escape for city folks,” Graneiri said. “Today, we have so many programs, workshops, events and festivals, it’s become a place for everyone.”
While Covid impacted much of the centre’s programming the past couple of years, the Kortright team is looking forward optimistically.
“We’re all looking forward to more in person programs later this year,” Graneiri said. “We have some many great programs that people just love. We have our parents and tots program, our weekend nature school program, our discovery programs and our summer day camps.”
Graneiri and her colleagues are excited to welcome back school trips, curious visitors and happy newlyweds.
“It will be great to welcome back all those lovely couples who come here to have their engagement and wedding photos taken,” she said. “It’s a magical place for so many of the couples who come here.”