A new fish business up and running in Thunder Bay has a Fort Frances connection.
Canadian Freshwater Fish is the joint project of former Fort Frances resident Jordan Shannon and his business partner, Brent Forsyth.
The two also work together with their consulting company, CE strategies, which handles geographic information systems, economic development, and project management.
During their work in First Nations' communities, the pair often would hear about how people there used to fish commercially with their parents and grandparents as a cultural activity that also made money.
“Originally, our idea was to help these communities get back into commercial fishing to create jobs and bring more money into each community,” Shannon explained via e-mail.
“We then realized that getting the fish to market was a challenge as a fish buyer wasn't easily accessible and we started wondering why there wasn't one in Thunder Bay,” he noted.
Canadian Freshwater Fish then was created to buy fish from local commercial fishers, process it, and sell it.
“We want to make this whole process as easy as possible for the fishers to sell their fish and to provide high-quality freshwater fish to our customers,” Shannon said.
“We are very fortunate as the fish we receive is some of the highest-quality fish in all of North America and having that in our backyard is pretty cool,” he added.
The company just began selling to the public in August and Shannon said so far “it has been a whirlwind.”
“We currently have 20 full-time and part-time staff, and are gearing up for the winter fishing season,” he noted.
“Our customers range from the general public to grocery stores and restaurants, and the interest and feedback that we have received has been incredible,” Shannon added.
Canadian Freshwater Fish sells a range of fresh and frozen fillets of walleye, whitefish, herring, perch, crappie, and lake trout coming from Lake Superior, Lake Nipigon, and Lake of the Woods.
The company also is very close to selling smoked fish (a highly-requested product, according to Shannon) and has received “rave reviews” during the testing phase.
“We are also starting a line of high-quality dog treats that we are excited about and should be available shortly, as well,” Shannon noted.
Shannon said sustainability is the foundation of the company and they want to make sure their suppliers practice sustainable fishing methods.
“We take sustainability very seriously because without it, we all lose,” he stressed.
“Our goal has always been to use 100 percent of the fish and have none of it go to waste.”
Shannon admitted that even though this is his second time starting a business, Canadian Freshwater Fish is very different. It has been challenging and time-consuming, but also very exciting for him.
“We have moved very quickly from conception to launch, which was needed due to the seasonality of the business so the whole thing has been a bit of blur,” he remarked.
“But we have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback and the interest we have received.”
For now, the company hopes to grow its product and customer base, and Shannon said that very soon they will be able to sell to anywhere in North America.
“It will open up so many different markets for us and really take us to the next level,” he enthused.