• 90 Ontario Avenue | Sault Ste. Marie, ON | P6B 6G7
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A Sweet Cultural Story

The St. Mary’s French Immersion school community is excited to be a recipient of the Department of Canadian Heritage Bilingual Advantage Grant.

Thanks to the $1,000 grant, St. Mary’s French Immersion was able to facilitate fourteen classes to visit the St. Kateri Outdoor Learning Centre to make la tire sur la neige (maple taffy).  

La tire sur la neige is an old-fashioned treat in Québec, also known as tire d’érable or la tire. It is made in the late winter and early spring as the maple syrup harvest begins and snow is still on the ground.

To start, large buckets are filled with fresh, clean snow.  Then, boiled and reduced maple syrup is poured in strips over the snow, chilling it to a taffy-like consistency.  Children then roll up the taffy on wooden sticks for a sweet and sticky cold-weather treat.  As students wait their turns to make la tire sur la neige, they go on hikes to learn about sugar maple trees and how they tap and collect sap from around the property.

“There was a big tin with clean snow.  We made holes, we put the syrup in the holes, then we used wooden sticks to turn the taffy,” said Henry, a Grade 1 student.

“It was really cool to watch the syrup fall into the snow and freeze immediately,” said Alexis, a Grade 6 student.

“It was a fun experience to make la tire and more fun eating it,” said Mila, a Grade 5 student.

It was a great learning opportunity for our school.  Many classes took the learning beyond their day at St. Kateri and continued the discussions and independent seat work about their experience and this traditional process that started many years ago,” said kindergarten teacher, Stephanie Francella-Stephen.

While at St. Kateri, students also took advantage of the Board’s dynamic outdoor environment, which sits on a 180 acre parcel of land that houses an abundance of nature.  They were able to snowshoe and ski on the trails at St. Kateri.

“Being outside at St. Kateri was perfect for this.  After we made la tire sur la neige, we went on a hike and we looked at a fox den too,” said Giacomo, a Grade 6 student.

“It was great to be outside at St. Kateri to make la tire and I really liked going on the hike with my friends,” said Emily, a Grade 5 student.

“We know that language and culture are strongly intertwined. One of the many objectives of our French Immersion program is to nurture an appreciation of the French culture.  We saw the Bilingual Advantage Grant as an opportunity for our students to experience a French tradition,” said St. Mary’s French Immersion Vice-Principal, Tiziana Palumbo.

“Making la tire was a great way for students to see that a benefit of learning French as a second language is that it allows them to fully enjoy French culture. This was a great way to connect their French language learning and French culture,” added Palumbo

The Department of Canadian Heritage supports ongoing activities and innovative projects that foster a better understanding of bilingualism and creates stronger ties between English and French speaking Canadians.