For nearly a half century now, La fromagerie Hamel has remained true to its mission: sharing its love for cheese with its clientele and providing pleasure and satisfaction to customers with an exceptional product offering and outstanding personalized service. Over these many years, our family business has maintained a warm and friendly atmosphere in shops staffed by personnel known for its know-how and discerning suggestions. The history of this family business and the passion for cheeses are inextricably intertwined.
The 60s and 70s
In 1961, Fernand Hamel starts his business career in Montreal as wholesaler for Descôteaux brand cheeses. Sometime later, he opens boutique at the Jean-Talon and Atwater markets to sell cheese wholesale and retail. Five years later, he purchases the Jean-Talon Street building that would become La fromagerie Hamel's head office and main boutique. The company then has a total of six employees. In 1978, Marc Picard leaves his teaching position and hockey coach duties – for what he thought would be a short while only – to give Fernand Hamel a hand in supervising the shops. By then, about a dozen people work in both boutiques.
In 1980, Roger Fulvi joins the business as Order Clerk. In 1981, Fernand Hamel sells the Atwater Market boutique and opens a new branch at the Halles market in Longueuil. The following year, Marc Picard becomes co-owner. La fromagerie Hamel expands and acquires a third boutique on Mont-Royal Street in Montreal, then opens a fourth at the Saint-Léonard market in Montreal's East End. Francine Chaput, Marc Picard's sister-in-law, manages the fourth boutique that stays in operation for two years until the Saint-Léonard market closure.
A year later, a new shop opens on Sherbrooke Street, in East End of Montreal. Marc's father-in-law, Maurice Chaput, then retired, and Roger Fulvi, by now Purchasing and Sales Manager based in head office, take care of the new boutique's launch. They are assisted on evenings and weekends by Marc's wife (Murielle Chaput) and sister (Françoise). Both keep their regular job while helping operate the boutique. In 1986, Marc's son, Ian Picard, begins part-time work in the business while completing his studies. In 1988, Fernand Hamel assigns his shares to Marc Picard who then becomes sole owner of La fromagerie Hamel. A few months later, Murielle leaves her job to come support Mark in operating the company. She focuses on customer service for the Jean-Talon market and Sherbrooke Street shops, but she also takes care of the catering service, clerical work, and advertising.
In 1992, Marc Picard takes on a partner, his sister Louise, who has just opened a Glac-o-bec outlet. As a result, a new boutique opens on Valmont Street in Repentigny. The Glac-o-bec/La fromagerie Hamel business concern becomes a wholly-owned branch of La fromagerie Hamel a few years later. Louise's daughter, Chantal, comes on board to support her mother in her many duties. Four years later, La fromagerie Hamel buys a building on Notre-Dame Street in Repentigny, and relocates the Valmont Street boutique to the new premises. Martine, another of Louise's daughters, joins the Repentigny shop to lend her mother a hand. During that same year, four government-certified ripening cellars are built under the boutique. Ian Picard begins ripening cheeses after a formal training as a cheese ripener with the Dairy Industry National School at Poligny, in the Jura region of France. He perfected his learning with practical training at renowned French cheese makers, cheesemongers and ripeners. After a career shift, Francine Chaput returns to the business as Accounting Manager. La Fromagerie Hamel now has 45 employees in four shops. Meanwhile, other family members join the growing company and the 90s end with a major expansion of the head office: the surface area for the Jean-Talon market shop is doubled, making room for a new addition, Le Pic Assiette bistro with a menu completely built around cheese.
From 2000 on
In the first years of 2000, the Mont-Royal and Sherbrooke Street boutiques undergo major renovations to bring them up to par with the latest trend in food retail shops. By the end of 2007, La fromagerie Hamel acquires a fifth boutique: it is located at Atwater market, in the Western area of Montreal.
In september 2012, a new branch opens its doors on promenade Fleury in Ahuntsic (north of Montreal).
Today, La fromagerie Hamel remains a family business, known for its know-how, proud of its 75-strong team of skilled individuals working in head office or in one of the five shops. With its sales figure, La fromagerie Hamel ranks among Canada's leading cheesemongers.