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Family farm cultivated into resort

Timmins business grows from greenhouse to guesthouse
Cedar Meadows Resort & Spa in Timmins

Moose and elk and bison? Oh, my. Cedar Meadows Resort in Timmins is more than just a hotel. It is a booming family business that offers classy rooms, eloquent dining and proximity to nature.

Richard Lafleur, part owner of Cedar Meadows and Lafleur Gardens, can thank his parents for teaching him the value of hard work, business ethics and how to make a family business blossom.

His parents moved to Timmins in 1946. His father was a farmer by day and miner at night, six evenings a week. His mother cared for 12 children, all of whom worked the land.

“All the food was sold at the farmers market,” explains Lafleur. “But the market was being harassed by the health unit with minor infractions and by 1964 the market was closed. It was a blessing in disguise really; it forced my parents to sell their products at what is now Lafleur Gardens.”

The Lafleur family had a farm with 2,000 chickens, five or six head of cattle and 12 acres of land that was cultivated.

The family continued to build the business and a name for themselves within the community. By 1968 a greenhouse was added to the site and the garden centre began to blossom.

“My dad thought there would be no money in flowers, but once he saw how well they sold, the next year he doubled the greenhouse’s size,” he adds. “Then in 1970 we started to produce tomatoes until 1972, when the land was declared a flood plain. We were told we couldn’t continue to build. But we were there first and we were not going to pick up and move. So we had to fight twice as hard after that for building permits.”

Lafleur started a landscaping business called Green Master Landscaping in 1975, which is still operating. In 1978, Green Master Landscaping bought the family business and Richard Lafleur became an equal partner with seven brothers.

Then in 1981, the family started to grow seedlings for the government. The first year, 3 million trees were grown on the property.

“Then in 1985, I purchased the 225 acres of property where I built the Cedar Meadows Resort. I originally bought the land for the topsoil, but I had a vision. I didn’t believe in destroying the land by stripping it of topsoil, so I started to landscape the property.”

The family wanted to diversify, especially since the garden centre, nursery and landscaping business were seasonal. So at first, Cedar Meadows was an equestrian centre, as the family had horses and realized there were few riding instructors locally.

“Over 15 years, we had 11 riding instructors. We made a profit, maybe two years out of the 15, so we gave it up four years ago.”

They then turned Cedar Meadows Resort into what it is today. The country atmosphere is prevalent throughout the 29 rooms and the cozy restaurant.

“I decided that in the long-term I wanted to build an inn, but it had to be unique. I think we succeeded. There is a sense of tranquility, wilderness, and peace of mind. You get that impression, but you are only five minutes away from downtown.”

The resort is now the prime location for weddings, banquets, conferences, and weekend getaways. It has been open for three years and already Lafleur says he is anxious to expand, because an ever-growing business is a successful business.

“We offer sleigh rides, and people from out of town or down south really like to see the animals. We have 100 acres that is fenced, where the animals were released. We have moose, elk, bison, deer, big-horned sheep and mountain goats.”

It seems the family business will continue well into the future, especially since Lafleur and his wife, Chantal, now have three daughters, all of whom have an interest in one or another aspect of the Lafleur businesses.

“My daughter Lisanne is a landscaper, Marie-France is in culinary school and is interested in hotel management, and my daughter Melanie is interested in therapeutic massage. We have thought about offering therapeutic massage at the resort.

“I know it looks like I’m moulding them, but I’m not,” he laughs. “I think they have been brought up the same way that I was. Working in the family business is work, but it becomes play.”