We shuck it, boil it, butter it and eat it, and over the last 15 years or so, we’ve also been lining up to find our way through it. During that time, corn mazes have popped up across Canada as farmers look to profit not only by growing the plant but also by scything large-scale labyrinths through fields of the stuff. Here’s a list of 10 wickedly fun warrens to seek out this fall.
RiverBreeze Farm and Corn Maze, Truro, N.S. This place takes Halloween seriously, employing 125 staff (including six makeup artists) to run its popular haunted corn maze. Once the season hits, thousands line up to wander in the dark along the maze’s normally idyllic pathways, where chainsaw-wielding maniacs, night stalkers and possessed children lurk, ready to test visitors’ sang-froid.
Chuckwagon Farm Market, Eldon, P.E.I. Damage from Hurricane Earl in 2010 shut this hardy island corn maze down for a while, but it has recovered and is now more popular than ever. Apart from getting people enjoyably lost, its main purpose is to educate visitors about Canada’s agricultural industry, with 10 checkpoints that feature food production trivia. The real test, however, is a new corn maze that combines paintball with geocaching.
Hunter Brothers Farm Market, Florenceville-Bristol, N.B. The first corn maze on Chip and Tom Hunter’s family farm celebrated New Brunswick Day, and was cut in the shape of their home province’s flag. They’ve changed the design every year since — from a celebration of Alberta and Saskatchewan’s centennial in 2005 to a tribute to the Montreal Canadiens in 2009 — and always try to base the maze on a Canadian historical or cultural theme.
Le Verger Labonté, Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, Que. Get in the creepy-crawly spirit as you walk through these three mazes, which are shaped like a bee, a butterfly and a spider. Each is targeted toward a specific age group — from a 10-minute maze for four-year-olds to an adult maze that takes about 90 minutes to complete.
Waterloo County Corn Maze, Crosshill, Ont. At press time, it was still too early to tell what shape this maze 20 minutes northwest of Waterloo, Ont., would take. But based on last year’s successful Great Canadian Inventions theme, which spelled out “Canada” and featured a scavenger hunt for items such as the zipper and the pacemaker, you can bet it will be intriguing. Try it by moonlight on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Saunders Farm, Munster, Ont. Okay, so the maze at this farm just outside of Ottawa isn’t made of corn (at least not this year). But it has been designed by Adrian Fisher, the man responsible for planning the world’s first corn maze, in Annville, Pennsylvania, which means it’s good enough for us. His “Canadian Experience” maze uses rocks, trees, water and plants to guide visitors through 2,136 square metres of manufactured frontier land.
A Maze in Corn, St. Adolphe, Man. Their punny name might have you rolling your eyes, but A Maze in Corn’s 21-metre-high zip line, which runs over the maze at this agri-tourism attraction just south of Winnipeg, will have your heart in your throat. It’s hard to beat the sheer thrill of moving at 50 kilometres per hour above the neatly cut pathways you may have just spent an hour lost in.
Pumpkin Hollow Corn Maze, Lumsden, Sask. If you think walking through a maze sounds like a good time, try racing through one. The annual Screaming Pumpkin Family Fun Run is a charity five-kilometre run or two-kilometre walk, each of which includes a one-kilometre section through the maze. Participants are encouraged to sport their finest Halloween costumes for the Oct. 20 event.
Lacombe Corn Maze, Lacombe, Alta. Last year the Kraay family’s corn maze made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest-ever QR code, at 29,000 square metres. This year’s design, however, celebrates the inaugural Tour of Alberta (Sept. 3 to 8), a professional bike race through the province, during which cyclists such as Ryder Hesjedal will pass near the giant bike-shaped maze.
Chilliwack Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch, Chilliwack, B.C. School groups will get an educational kick out of piecing together the legend of Jack and the Cornstalk, whose story has been torn up and scattered throughout this 48,500-square-metre maze. Students use clues and answer trivia questions to help them find their way through the maze, and learn interesting facts about pumpkins along the way (bet you didn’t know they’re 90 per cent water).
Look down as you fly over Canada and you may see creative corn maze designs such as these.