Springhills Fish started over 35 years ago when Jim and Lynette Taylor bought an old fly-fishing club. They had a big dream of building their own fish farm in Grey County.
Although it took eight years of permits (and another three years to afford bathroom doors on their house!) they opened Cedar Crest Trout Farm in 1995.
If you ever feel too old to start something new, you can think of Jim at age 52 pulling open the flood gates to his new farm. That day nobody could have predicted that the business would grow and eventually be run by his children Arlen and RJ, who were only kids at the time.
Both Arlen and RJ left home at 18 and swore they would never be fish farmers.
Arlen took off to post-conflict areas like Angola, Iraq and Mozambique to work in logistics and international development. And RJ headed to the city to work in science advocacy for an engineering school and theoretical physics institute.
Yet after a decade, they found their way home. It took all that exploring for them to learn that fish farming is one of the most progressive, environmentally conscious and fun careers out there.
Plus they had dreams of growing the business together. And recruited a few others, including Arlen’s husband Mike and their son Ivo for the journey.
Our first expansions
In the 2010s, the Taylors added three more land-based fish farms to meet the growing demands for sustainable fish. At the time, the business was focused on hatching young rainbow trout for sale to floating farms in northern Ontario to grow-out.
One of these newly acquired farms had a small processing plant and smokehouse, and it was called Springhills. It gave the Taylors all the ingredients they needed to expand into filleting and offering more fish.
By 2018, Springhills became the first land-based farms in central Canada to get certified by the Best Aquaculture Practices program. This held their team to the highest international standard for environmental impact, fish welfare, and social responsibility. Shortly after they were recommended by Ocean Wise too.
A fish delivery service was born
The Springhills family was hit hard by cancelled orders during the first weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic. So our entire team started filleting fish and asking people on Facebook if they’d want a box.
Soon so many requests came flooding in. We quickly outgrew our plant and built another much bigger one. We branched out with more types of fish, and even found other farmers and fishers for more variety.
In less than a year, we were delivering local fish to more than 1,500 homes every month nearly across the province. We launched into most grocery retailers big and small. And expanded with smoked fish and other fishy products.
By 2023, the Springhills family was having trouble meeting the high demands for ethically and sustainably raised fish. So they started a new partnership with Sheshegwaning First Nation for a new fish farm on Manitoulin Island.
This was the first time Springhills raised fish in the lake. Together with Sheshegwaning, we’re using offshore technology to grow fish in floating nets.
In some areas of the world, farming in nets can have negative impacts on the environment. Where we’re farming, the science has only ever been positive. These farms have even been shown to increase wild fish populations!
Raising fish with family, community and the environment in mind
On every doorstep we deliver fish, you share words of encouragement and praise. You keep our hearts high, our bodies moving, and our lights on. You’re a part of the next Springhills chapter, and we cannot do it without you!