Hailing from Switzerland, Walter and Leonie von Rotz were eager and optimistic when they came to this picturesque mountain town nestled in the heart of the Rockies; with its similarity to the Swiss Alps, it felt like a natural fit. When Valbella Gourmet Foods opened its doors in 1978 in the then thriving coal town of Canmore, the future looked bright and the 3000 residents were all potential customers; however, things wouldn’t be quite that easy for them. In July 1979, when Valbella was just barely over a year old, Canmore Mines Ltd. ceased coal production and the mines were shut down for good. Many thought that Canmore would soon follow the fate of other neighbouring coal towns, such as Georgetown, and simply fade into the forest, to be overtaken by Mother Nature.
It was a bit of luck and a lot of hard work that took Valbella through those tough years. Charcuterie products were virtually unknown in Canada at that time, but Walter and Leonie stood behind the quality of their product from day one, and, unbeknownst to them, they would one day be a household name in Alberta. With the announcement of the Winter Olympics to be held in Calgary in 1988, things were really looking up. With the Olympics, came the entire world; and with the world, came the realization of Canmore’s potential for tourism. It’s almost as if Walter and Leonie knew what was to come.
Valbella was the first business in the now booming Elk Run Industrial Park, and it has grown over the years to a 40,000 square foot plant with a bustling Deli and Cafe. Over the last few years, Walter and Leonie’s children, Jeff and Chantal, have stepped into the family business and have put their own touches into Valbella. With the recent opening of a new patio, fully equipped with a gourmet food truck, a brand new website, and a revamped brand, they are taking it to the next level.
Products such as Smoked Bison, Elk Burgers, Veal Bratwurst, and Beef Jerky line the shelves; there really is something to please every palate. Skewers, Beef Tenderloin, Smokies yearning for a hot BBQ, and freshly made sandwiches perfect for a mountain picnic are just a few of the items available at Valbella. A new line of heat-and-eat products such as Butter Chicken, Swiss Barley Soup, and Gourmet Meatballs are perfect for those who want a home-cooked meal without the hassle.
The one constant in Valbella’s history is to assure that only the highest quality product ends up on its customers plates. Sourcing all of its meat from Alberta farms, the ‘shop local’ movement is something they have been doing since day one. Next year, Valbella will celebrate 40 years in business and 40 years of graciously serving its amazing customers here in the Bow Valley and Alberta. They invite you to join in on the party, stop by, give them a call, check out their website, and go fill your Valbelly with some damn tasty meat. You won’t regret it.
Valbella Gourmet Foods
104 Elk Run Blvd, Canmore, AB T1W 2W8
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