SHERBROOKE– Seven weeks after losing her operation in a fire that left only embers and ashes, Leigh McFarlane persevered and found a permanent home for her business, The Soap Company of Nova Scotia, in the former smokehouses of the St. Mary’s River in Sherbrooke.
“I couldn’t be happier,” McFarlane said breathlessly. The newspaper between races on the phone last week. In a statement, she added: “We went from soap to smoke and back to soap in the old smokehouse. The way forward is finally clear.
In a deal McFarlane called “good,” Cooke Aquaculture of Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, agreed to lease its property — the former Smokehouses, which it owns through its subsidiary True North Salmon Co. ltd. – to The Soap Company as part of its commitment to “a strong rural economy”.
Cooke’s public relations manager, Joel Richardson, said in a statement: ‘As a family business, we believe in supporting local Nova Scotia businesses at every opportunity and we congratulate Leigh and The Soap. Company of Nova Scotia for their perseverance in getting back on track. We know the community embraces Leigh and her team…and we are happy to have a facility available that can accommodate the company.
McFarlane said the new premises are ideal.
“It has all the different spaces that we need to fully restore the business – all the spaces that we need to separate all the different activities that we have to do,” she explained. “It also provides us with a loading dock, which is very important for shipping and receiving, and it will allow us to re-establish our retail store at the front. It basically ticks all the boxes.
Shortly after the November fire that ripped through her home and business in Cherry Hill – forcing her to flee with little more than the clothes on her back and an old cordless phone – McFarlane set up temporary operations at the former Sherbrooke fire station on an apparently open site. ended in no-cost sublet from Atlantic Gold, which leases the Main Street building to a New Glasgow interest. “They [Atlantic Gold] are really lovely people… and we’re really stunned,” she said at the time.
The move was essential, she noted last week, to allow her to fill soap orders this month. “As Christmas approached, the focus was on finding a location to fully ramp up production,” she said. “The Smokehouses were really the only place available where we didn’t need to build anything; we could just come in and settle in and get to work.
Cooke bought salmon curing company St. Mary’s Smokehouses in 2017, before moving operations to Charlottetown a year later, which affected about 18 local employees.
In his statement, McFarlane said, “Building a business from scratch and experiencing it at scale is extremely rewarding. So to see the whole operation burn down was devastating. Immediately the community brought us together in a big hug that provided the energy to get up and it got even bigger with this most recent event. The facilities of the old smoking room are essential to make our return possible. I am extremely grateful to the Cooke family for hearing our story, seeing our commitment to the community and allowing us to set up operations in this building… This move will reinvigorate The Smokehouses. A true win-win community!
McFarlane hopes to be operating at full capacity — with three full-time and three part-time employees — within a month.
The Soap Company manufactures soap and laundry powder for consumers and retailers, including 86 Sobeys stores, in the Maritimes.