President and Founder of Mrs. McGarrigle's Fine Mustard - Fine Food
"I fell in love with the area - the open spaces, the (Rideau) river, the people. It's a great place to raise a family. I think people are a lot more open and they're not as rushed."
It all started with Janet Campbell, a new mother at the time, a book of preserves and some ingenuity. Today, and thousands upon thousands of litres of mustard later, Janet is running a booming business in the Leeds Grenville village of Merrickville on the Rideau River.
"I started on page one and ended up making every mustard in the book," Janet recalls of that first preserve cookbook given to her by her mother.
"Then I went on a tangent from there." She was trading some of her preserves with a friend in exchange for pickles. Her wise friend told Campbell mustard making was her forte.
Janet's company Mrs. McGarrigle's Fine Mustard - Fine Food business is now famous and ships its 14 flavours of mustard and other food products to more than 300 outlets across Canada. It produces four to six 17-litre batches of mustard per day four days a week in its Merrickville kitchen.
In the summer of 2012, it was announced Mrs. McGarrigle's Fine Mustard, Fine Food of Merrickville partnered with Empire Cheese of Campbellford and Forty Creek Whisky of Grimsby to create tangy, aged cheddar with Hot Whiskey Mustard. The new Hot Whiskey Cheddar is featured at their Merrickville store cheese counter and at the Empire's factory location in Campbellford.
"What's been key to our success is Merrickville is a destination. My goal has been to establish Mrs. McGarrigle's as a destination within a destination. If we're doing our job, they'll find us."
Janet's Cranberry Port mustard was judged the best out of 150 entries from around the world at the 2010 Worldwide Mustard Competition in California. Altogether, Mrs. McGarrigle's mustards have earned five medals on the world stage.
Mrs. McGarrigle's mustards are used by some of the country's finest chefs. Among some Mrs. McGarrigle's clients are Chef Steve Mitton, of the Murray Street Restaurant, and Michael Blackie of the National Arts Centre's Le Café restaurant, Ottawa.
"The thing that makes me proud is it is a lot of the best restaurants (using Mrs. McGarrigle's products)."
Mrs. McGarrigle's has developed a strong following and is a main attraction in Merrickville. It is one of many shops and artisan outlets in this quaint village. It's a stylish retail store situated in a renovated seven-bedroom house first build in 1888 by a family which emigrated from Ireland. It features gourmet foods, cheeses, chocolates, kitchenware and home décor. The emphasis is on Ontario-made and home-grown products.
"People that come here are taking their time and spending the day in the village," she says. For example, she offers cooking classes at certain times of the year. The people taking the classes are eating in the village and often staying overnight.
"There's so much talent in the community," she says of the many artists and craftspeople of Merrickville. "It's a lot of the reason Merrickville is what it is today."
Business owners and the chamber of commerce also work together. Janet, for example, doesn't try to compete with her fellow shop owners. Instead, the goal is to add to the overall experience of a visitor. "It's important to think of the big picture and anything to make the experience more unique."
She started her business in Merrickville as a lifestyle choice. She was also drawn back to Merrickville after spending time at a cottage in the area while she was growing up. Doing business in Merrickville, and Leeds Grenville, has helped develop a successful and flourishing enterprise.
"I think it's a great place to live and work. I think it has huge potential."
Janet Campbell is proud to do business in Leeds Grenville.
St. Lawrence Street, Merrickville