It is with great sadness that we have been forced to close Boucanerie Chelsea Smokehouse. For the past six years, it has been our pleasure to serve not only local customers but also food-lovers from all around the National Capital Region as well as the many visitors who flock to Chelsea at weekends and holidays to enjoy the natural beauty of the Gatineau Hills. We have also worked closely with other regional artisans to showcase their natural and organic products and fill the shelves of our tiny store with good things produced by their skilled and dedicated hands. In many ways, we woke up a dinosaur when we bought the old building nestled on the side of the 105 overlooking the Gatineau River. We both worked tirelessly to improve old-fashioned fish-smoking techniques and maintain outdated equipment in order to breathe new life into an ailing business. Our search for the freshest sources of fish and seafood focused on Canadian suppliers from the maritime provinces to the Pacific coast. We worked with large fleet operators and the skippers of tiny day-boats to ensure that the fish we smoked was not only the freshest available but also came from sustainable sources. Although our Atlantic salmon was the product of the aquaculture industry, we painstakingly cross-examined producers about fish density in the water column, the use of antibiotics, the feed cycle, and the use of colouring agents – all things we knew precious little about when we first started out. We learned all this from scratch and the odd bad experience. Our fresh fish counter was small but we showcased the freshest products available, from Nova Scotian lobster and PEI oysters to Arctic char caught with Inuit hand lines. We wanted more than a gourmet convenience store – we wanted to serve the local community with good things that are hard to come by, and we offered that seven days a week for six years. We had a lot of fun with our customers and strove to give them an intimately personal service seasoned with British humour and laced with Line’s bottomless supply of off-the-cuff recipes that saved many a distraught host from culinary bewilderment. It was all part of the pleasure.
So, it is the end of a chapter, and a sad ending at that, but we take with us the memory of many, many happy days and many a hearty lobster fest. We will continue to do our best to serve this unique community with passion and humour – you know where to find us for the best fish and chips on the planet. Finally, we would like to thank our loyal staff, our suppliers, our faithful band of local customers, and the captain of a little fishing boat out of Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia called ‘Slippery When Wet’.
With deep felt thanks,
Line Boyer and James Hargreaves