If we had been told in March 2020 that COVID-19 would affect us so much and for so long, we probably wouldn’t have believed it. The last few months have passed terribly slowly, but also seem to have disappeared in the blink of an eye in the collective universe. There is certainly one group of people for whom these months have been even more difficult: entrepreneurs. Their livelihood, and therefore their daily life, has been greatly disrupted by each new public health instruction. We’ve contacted some of the region’s entrepreneurs to discuss about last year and highlight all the efforts and creativity they had to show in these hard times.

Les Canardises

Established in Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges in 2003, Pascal and Yolande Klein have been raising ducks in the brisk mountain air. With a view of Mount Ferréol and the gentle mountain breeze blowing, the idyllic landscape of the farm has not changed in the past year, but the company certainly had to adapt. Normally, nearly 50% of their marketing efforts were focused on public markets and events across Québec… since public events have been halted, they had to focus on online sales, sales directly at the farm and increasing the distribution network. As early as April 2020, they made the decision to invest in a web platform to facilitate e-commerce. They have almost doubled the number of outlets across Québec and plan to make more sales directly at the farm this summer, taking advantage of the surge in popularity of Québec agritourism. Considering that approximately 50% of their clientele was previously international, they have also created many new products more adapted to the reality of Québec households: they now have more ready-to-eat meals and small dishes to share so that people can bring home the restaurant experience. Like any good entrepreneur, they have worked hard to optimize their current investments.

St-Aubin Marion Art Gallery

Since August 2016, Louise Marion and Yvon St-Aubin have been welcoming visitors to their art gallery based in their ancestral home in Château-Richer. Usually benefitting from the many international tourists taking the Route de la Nouvelle-France, this year was quite different indeed. They followed the various government instructions and opened or closed their doors as directed. Even though not many visitors showed up, they saw an opportunity in this calm period: they were able to create more! Indeed, they were able to paint more efficiently with this bubble of focus that formed day after day. They even worked on producing a full collection which recently left for an art gallery in Calgary where they are currently exhibiting. As this gallery remained in operation for the majority of the year, they were able to continue to sell a few paintings. They reopened the doors of their establishment on February 8th following all the health measures. They encourage locals to come walk and discover their works; they will be happy to welcome them and discuss with them.

Photo : Louise Marion

Atelier Paré

Located on the Côte-de-Beaupré since 1943, Atelier Paré is a well-kept jewel of our region. Incomparably rich in heritage, the wood sculpture economuseum highlights Alphonse Paré’s heritage with a concept based on Québec’s tales and legends. We spoke with Françoise Lavoie, co-owner of the establishment for over 30 years. The last few months have certainly been different for the couple, who usually receive many international visitors and school groups (around 80% of the clientele). But the pandemic has not gotten the better of these two enthusiasts who have been extremely busy recently. They worked on a collaboration with the Musée Aux Trois Couvents during the holiday season and then started working on a series for the local community television that will focus on eight legends of Québec’s history. In partnership with Pierre Godin, formerly in charge of the Grande Ferme, Françoise worked hard on the content of these programs, rich in local heritage, which will be available this summer. Speaking of the sunny and warm season, Atelier Paré is preparing to set up an outdoor exhibition respecting social distancing in the garden behind their economuseum. This new exhibition will also focus on Québec legends, in order to allow visitors to reconnect with their roots. Like Mr. St-Aubin, Ms. Lavoie encourages Quebeckers to take an interest in the history of our region, which is very rich! Take the Route de la Nouvelle-France and see for yourself the old, well-maintained cellars, the homes and ancestral lands of Québec’s original families.

Photo : Atelier Paré – Réseau Économusée

Les Délices Royales

Known since 2015 for their excellent artisanal ice cream, the owners of Délices Royales in l’Ange-Gardien have revived the former general store of the village, a 165-year-old building. They decided to focus on take-out and delivery orders since the restaurant didn’t have a lot of seating space. A few months later, the first lockdown hit and they were able to serve the locals who could no longer go to other restaurants! Since April, they have therefore been working tirelessly to improve their offer: they have increased delivery and replaced their website to take orders online. They have also changed their computer system and are thinking of soon offering easy to cook meal kits. The pandemic has certainly put them to the test and required them to be creative and resourceful, they are working 7 days a week to optimize their investments. The quality of their products, their excellent customer service and all the efforts put in the recent times allow them to stay open, and they ensure that the Ice cream shop and the terrace will be in operation this summer, respecting the guidelines of social distancing and health regulations in place.

Photos : Les Délices Royales

Being an entrepreneur is much more than a full-time job; it seems that this statement is even truer in times of pandemic when the economy is turned upside down. We therefore encourage you to choose products and activities from our area to occupy your next family outings and meals. On the Côte-de-Beaupré, we are proud of our region, of our art, our history, and our food offering!

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