Temiskaming: Land of Lakes, Rocks & Thornloe Cheese Co.
Let’s head to the region of Temiskaming—the land of lakes, rocks, trees and cheese. Since 1940, Thornloe Cheese Co. has been an anchor in the agricultural region. Early settlers made their way through the bordering province of Quebec and developed their traditional knowledge of farming and cheese production into a highly respected Canadian brand.
Land of Lakes, Rocks, and Great Cheese
A little geography lesson will help understand how a renowned cheese company exists so far North, and has for so long. Rooted deeply in Northeastern Ontario’s Temiskaming Valley, the region is classified as the Little Clay Belt—the deepest rift valley in eastern Canada lends itself to high quality dairy, beef and cash crop production. A drive through the region depicts a portrait of Northern farming. For Torontonians, the trek is about 600 km due north to a rustic and rugged land where a paddler’s, hiker’s and boater’s dream comes to life, and where a cheese lover’s palate is satiated.
Thornloe Cheese has won numerous awards. In fact, they are the only artisanal company in Canada with as wide a range of cheese products. Familiarize yourself with their offerings—they range from blues to bloomy rinds, cheddars to curd, Italian asiago to Latin grilling halloumi, which is perfect for a campfire or BBQ grill.
Thornloe’s mission is to produce cheese for a diverse ethnic Canada while staying true to its heritage practices. It’s the one stop shop for cheese aficionados or maybe you just love cheese curd. If that’s the case, then you’ll want to stock up from their selection of 8 flavours of savoury and spicy snack bags. Although Northerners grew up with cheese curd poutines (which has become a craze), Southerners are still newbies when it comes to the hottest cheese trend predicted for 2017.
Being a truly great artisanal cheese company is founded on a few principles: sourcing local ingredients, employing made-by-hand methods, and paying tribute to your community and landscape. Just less than a decade ago, the company became a farmer-owned cooperative, with this the evolution of cheese making took hold and a greater emphasis on local sourcing and taste terroir began.
Paying Tribute to the Region
This tribute shines through in Thornloe’s Devils’ Rock blue cheese—this cheese was created to mimic this popular tourist vista 180 metre rock face overlooking Lake Temiskaming. This cheese is first hand-pressed into Pyramidal forms, let to age, then each one is hand-inoculated with a Rocqueforti strain to create rock like fractures in the cheese. A final dip in black wax to replicate the bold Canadian Shield of the area.
Other taste of terroir cheeses you’ll want to try include Temiskaming. Created in honour of the region, the word itself is an Ojibway term meaning ‘deep waters’, like the lake. When this cheese was created, the idea was to craft a deep flavour profile with a French classic recipe, playing up both Aboriginal and French culture of the region. Then there’s Casey, Harley, Charlton, Evanturel and Belle Valle, just to name a few more whose names represent communities with a supply of both cow and goat dairy—each is unique, offering you distinction in every bite.
Thornloe is a leader in creating exceptional cheeses and will surely be a part of your fond travel memories. Travellers enjoy two locations, both with RV Parking, dog walks, ice cream and hot food options be sure to bring your cooler for your cheese trail adventure! They also offer a unique fundraising program for schools and sporting organizations across Ontario. You can check out their website for details and online ordering.
Every conscientious food producer, chef and home cook knows the end result of the dish will only be as good as the quality of the ingredients going into the recipe. At source, the milk used at Thornloe is high quality because of a unique diet of barley, grass and silage. Many say the cheese tastes as fresh as the Northern air, and when passing the pastures, be sure to send a wave out and say hi to the grazing girls!