I love telling people how Island Chocolates started. I have always enjoyed chocolate and my husband Ron was just as enthusiastic. Years before we imagined becoming chocolatiers, Ron wrote magazine articles. One of his assignments was to write about chocolatiers in Vancouver—a delicious assignment. In the course of his [in depth] research he met with Charlie Sigvardsen, owner of Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. Charlie said “If you ever want to learn chocolate-making, give me a call.”
Years pass, we move to Victoria, Prince Edward Island with our young family [that’s another story].
We opened Victoria’s Tea Room and Crafts-and served lots of chocolate desserts. The business was seasonal, we needed a more sustainable income, and the old general store became available-perfect for a chocolate shop.
Of course we phoned Charlie—remember me? Remember your offer? Charlie very kindly offered to teach us chocolate making: Ron went back to Vancouver and apprenticed with Charlie—Valentines, Easter, Mother’s Day. Charlie was incredibly generous-with knowledge, recipes and encouragement. I followed and learned hand dipping and some of the costing. Charlie helped us select our first equipment, source our ingredients, and patiently helped when things didn’t turn out. He and his wife Joan even came to PEI and gave us suggestions on site. Our Peanut Butter Supremes came about as a result of Charlies solution to over heated white chocolate. They visited us again on our 15th anniversary for our first chocolate festival —the pancake breakfast was Charlie’s suggestion and he cooked all the bacon for the first festival. Charlie continues to be a mentor and source of inspiration – and Charlies Chocolate Factory is still operating in British Columbia.
From day 1, the whole family – Ron, Linda, Miles, Eric and Emma -has been involved—making chocolates, selling and caring for the building.
Over the years, Miles has gone on to other endeavors, but some of the fresh fruit we use is grown by him. Eric and Emma continue to have active roles and through travel, courses and practical experience have added to the depth of knowledge and skill of all our products.