All the stars aligned to bring Flying Canoe to Spencerville
Spencerville - A fortunate stroke of serendipity is why MacKintosh CiderHouse is doing business here.
"I thought it was fate," says Flying Canoe Hard Cider founder Pete Rainville of how he and wife Melissa and their two sons "stumbled across" a house for sale in Spencerville, only a few kilometres from Smyth's Orchards where they get their apple cider juice.
It turned out to not be just any house. It's a Spencer Street landmark built by Dr. Pember MacKintosh, grandson of John, who discovered the McIntosh apple in 1811.
For a well established Ottawa-based cider maker looking for a new home outside of the city, that's serendipity. "We thought the stars were aligned and it was meant to be," says Pete. "We're here to stay."
Pete started Flying Canoe Hard Cider in 2016. The business is famous for being Ottawa and the National Capital Region's first hard cider maker. The handcrafted, small-batch company has been growing steadily, including online sales, so the family decided to move to a rural location. They've renovated part of the new home into a retail outlet, which is already the #1 revenue stream since opening shop earlier this year, followed by Drummond's Gas just up the street and the LCBO located near the Costco in Barrhaven.
The product is also sold in 50 LCBO stores and 20-plus grocery stores.
"There are a lot of good things going on and we're growing," says Pete. The pandemic has meant a drop in sales for supplying major events, such as Ottawa's Jazz Festival and Capital Pride, but they've also seen increases in other areas. Expansion into other products and merchandise is proving fruitful as well. There is the Limited Edition Five Acre Cider, Flying Canoe steak spice, related products and their hard cider is an ingredient in Apple Butter BBQ sauce made by Leacock Farms.
Despite the pandemic, product consumption has increased. Production in Spencerville hit 11,000 litres of cider in July. Pete believed that would be enough product to last until the end of the summer. Instead, they sold out the first week of August and have been working hard to get more product on the shelves. He even had to go further afield to get Ontario apples after using up nearly every available apple in this part of Eastern Ontario.
"The local support here is absolutely phenomenal and unsurpassed in my life, and I've lived in different parts of Canada," says Pete. "People are working very hard to bring attention to this village and Edwardsburgh Cardinal Township. That's an inspiration for us to stay here."
Fans of Flying Canoe are making their way to Spencerville to visit the store and other area attractions, says Pete, adding they're coming from as far away as Kingston, Brockville, Cornwall, Perth, Smiths Falls and Ottawa.
"Our township's slogan is - you can get there from here," says Pete, of setting up shop and doing business in a smaller community.
Story and photo courtesy of the Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office
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