The reviews are in, and they’re raving: the welcome is friendly, the cheese is excellent. Founded in 2015 in a region without a lot of artisanal cheeses (except for those from Thornloe), Fromagerie Kapuskoise quickly took root, and well beyond the local scene. Their cheese was noticed in the entire province, which has traditionally leaned heavily on cheddar and goat cheese.
The Fromagerie owes its existence to a round-the-world trip by founder François Nadeau at the end of his university studies. While staying a few months in China, he found himself missing bread and cheese, which are rarely found in the area.
He easily managed to prepare bread, but the cheese-making exercise turned out to be significantly more complex. This is how he came to produce cheese—and he figured while he was at it, he would make the best there is!
Back in Northern Ontario, he explained his intentions and vision to his close-knit and forward-thinking family. François Nadeau packed his suitcases once more to visit cheese factories in Quebec. He then spent a year in Haute-Savoie (France) to learn the art of French cheese.
From the terroir to the top
Upon his return, he now faced the challenge to adapt French recipes to the Northern Ontario terroir—which is quite different than the Alps’. But his love for the region he grew up in was strong. He wanted the cheeses to reflect the Northern Ontario landscape and to truly bring forward a regional taste, getting milk from local cows or sheep.
So the cheeses were born, and he named them after the rivers that cross Northeastern Ontario's land. The Kapuskasing (Morbier), the Opasatika (Tomme), the Mattagami (Cantal), the Saganash (Ossau-Iraty), the Pagwa (Vachard) were successively born, bearing Oji-Cree names.
Being from a strongly French-Canadian community, cheese curds had to be added to the lot. François being François, always wanting to think outside the box, he even made some goat curds.
The desire to deliver a French artisanal-style cheese, and the taste for perfection that drives the cheesemaker, don’t go unnoticed, especially during the popular Royal Winter Fair of Ontario.
The Fromagerie Kapuskoise products have found their way from Kapuskasing to the top of the CN Tower, in the selection of fine Canadian cheeses of the revolving restaurant’s menu.
In December 2016, less than three years after the beginning of the production of Morbier-style Kapuskasing, it was added to the list of the best cheeses in Ontario presented by the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance.
But today, the one-year-old Mattagami (made from cow’s milk) and the Saganash (from sheep’s milk) are in high demand, says Denis Nadeau, the cheesemaker’s father, who is as passionate as his son about the cheesemaking process and invested in the commercial development of the family business.
THE HEART OF THE BUSINESS
Fromagerie Kapuskoise's cheeses are known, savoured, and loved far beyond Northern Ontario. Now distributed from Ottawa to Windsor, from Niagara to Sault-Sainte-Marie, in Toronto and a little outside the province, the heart of the family business is in an amazing hacienda converted into a factory, standing in the rugged landscape of Northern Ontario, on the two-lane Highway 11, at the eastern end of Kapuskasing.
While the very discreet François Nadeau is in his vats, his relatives take good care of the administration and service in the establishment. They are ready to give you a truly French Canadian welcome: get ready to taste the cheeses and to speak with the artisans about the names of the cheeses, the sources of milk, the aspirations of the cheesemaker, and the challenges of the sector. All of that with a heartfelt enthusiasm!
MORE THAN CHEESE
This warm welcome is extended to locals, but also to travelling civil servants and professionals. “It’s surprising how much regular customers come from Thunder Bay, Toronto, Quebec, Manitoba,” states Denis Nadeau. Plus the expats, who get their loot when visiting.
And for your next stop to Kapuskasing, the Fromagerie team suggests some activities nearby. The Nadeaus and their colleagues are fond of cross-country skiing (the trails of Kapuskasing and elsewhere in the North are magnificent), ice fishing, hunting... “But for a few years now, our hobbies have evolved and became more family gatherings,” the grandfather shares; “the family is growing fast!” Just like the Fromagerie.
376, Governement Road East, Kapuskasing
Tel.: 705 331-2177