SEELEY'S BAY - Prepare to be an instant fan and repeat customer when you discover the Belgian chocolates, brittles and barks handcrafted at Ridgway Confections Inc.
At this time of year, the Ridgway chocolate shop on the village's Main Street is bursting with colourful, handpainted chocolate eggs just in time for Easter. These amazing, one-of-a-kind boxed delights mimic Matryoshka dolls with smaller and yet smaller eggs inside.
"We're having a lot of fun," says co-owner/chocolatier Derek Ouellet of his Easter egg creations, bunnies, squirrels and the assortment of year-round fan favourites -
chocolate covered sponge toffee, pecan butter crunch bark, specialty bars as well as "select your own" artisan bonbons.
"This is our little chocolate shop and I tell people if you don't see something you like, let me know," says Derek, adding customers have suggested new ideas and he has obliged. He likes to create interesting flavour combinations.
Their creations are made with only fresh ingredients, like butter and cream, and are locally sourced when possible.
For example, a 'bean to bar' chocolate is sweetened with local maple syrup. No preservatives are used.
Chocolate is not available locally but they ensure purchases are made from 100% sustainably grown cocoa beans.
Derek and partner/co-owner Cindy Healy began their adventure into chocolate quite unexpectedly in 2012. They were asked to make fudge for Dale Moore, owner of the Seeley's Bay Shop
The Nest Egg
. Sales blossomed at Dale's shop so within 18 months the couple decided to start their own business.
They installed a professional kitchen in their Victorian-era home - the landmark MacPherson House - with a plan to run a wholesale operation.
Sales have been great but they have nearly doubled since 2015 when the couple decided to open a showroom in their home.
"I think there's a trend with people searching out places like ours as a destination point," says Cindy. People look for uniqueness, quality and local food connections, she says. Their shop has all of the above.
Visiting the candy shop is an experience in itself with its interesting antique display cases, lights and cash register. The name Ridgway is after Derek's grandmother's maiden name. Her photograph hangs in the shop.
Derek and Cindy, who are both triathletes, are very community minded and host the Truffle Shuffle Fun Run or Walk to raise money for the local food bank.
Learn more about Ridgway and shop online by visiting their
, send them an
or call them at 613-532-4468.