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How an Ontario flour mill saved an iconic Canadian hot cereal loved by northerners

Allicia Kelly had simply completed up her “Hail Mary field” of Red River Cereal in October when she determined to show to Facebook in a determined act to see if she might discover extra. 

The cereal had been pulled from the cabinets, however she was in a position to get this final field from her dad and mom’ basement and puzzled if, possibly, different individuals had some obtainable that they did not need — the nutty, grainy cereal is reviled as a lot as it’s loved. 

But it was from that Facebook submit that she found Red River Cereal, the practically 100-year-old Canadian culinary traditional, was obtainable for buy after an approximate two-year absence because of an Ontario flour mill. 

Off the cabinets ‘on account of low assist’

This got here as a aid to many within the North who depend on the cereal out within the bush, together with Marc Winkler, host of CBC’s the Weekender

Winkler mentioned his coronary heart sank in 2021 when he discovered that Red River Cereal was now not being produced. 

It began when he was unable to search out the product on the shops, so Winkler used his reporting abilities to search out out why.

He found that Smuckers, an American firm that owned Red River Cereal on the time, discontinued the product “on account of low assist.” They’d already stopped promoting it in Canada in 2020. 

Winkler mentioned he reached out to Smuckers to tell the corporate there can be assist in the event that they introduced the cereal again, believing he alone might hold their income hovering. He wasn’t the one northerner with this thought. 

Marc Winker, left, and Loren McGinnis photographed with Red River Cereal. Winkler went on a deep dive to search out out why the cereal was now not being bought at grocery shops, however on this journey he found his beloved cereal was now obtainable because of an Ontario flour mill. (Loren McGinnis/CBC)

Yellowknife resident Rosanna Strong mentioned Red River Cereal was a staple for her and her household. 

Strong mentioned she would often use the cereal for baking bread or pancakes, but it surely was a vital element for lengthy journeys on the land. 

She nonetheless remembers a yr in the past when she was searching for some to carry on an extended canoe journey. 

Strong checked every retailer on the town, together with her “go-to” Weaver and Devore, the place she was knowledgeable the tragic information — Red River Cereal was now not being produced. 

“And that is once I was delivered to my knees in tears,” she mentioned with fun. 

This is a far cry from how she felt concerning the cereal when she first tried it as a pre-teen. 

“It was disgusting, why would anybody eat that?” she mentioned of her first chew of the grain-filled breakfast. 

“As I grew older, I grew to understand the nuttiness, the chewiness, the feel in it.” 

Rosanna Strong mentioned she has been consuming Red River Cereal for years and was devastated when she came upon it was now not obtainable at shops. (Submitted by Rosanna Strong)

However, Garth Wallbridge, a Yellowknife-based lawyer, mentioned he all the time loved the breakfast cereal. 

“We had it pretty commonly across the breakfast desk once I was a child,” he mentioned. 

Wallbridge is Métis and from Manitoba, the place Red River Cereal was first made, giving it a touch of nostalgia to associate with its seedy texture. 

Wallbridge mentioned when he came upon it was now not being bought, he loaded up on a couple of luggage — though he wished he had purchased extra on the time.

But now he is positioned an order and is excitingly awaiting to have what he describes as the right hot meal to start out one’s day earlier than going, or working, on the land within the chilly winter months. 

Arva Flour Mill

The Arva Flour Mill in Ontario, North America’s oldest continuously-operating industrial water-powered flour mill, bought the Red River Cereal this previous June. 

Mark Rinker is the proprietor of the Arva Flour Mill, positioned about 9 kilometres northwest of London. 

Rinker bought the mill simply over a yr in the past, and it was round this time that he first heard of Red River Cereal.

He mentioned he frolicked within the mill retailer whereas the acquisition was going by and he heard a number of prospects ask in the event that they bought the traditional cereal. Curious, he started researching the cereal and found its historical past. 

Being out a subject camp, or a bush camp or a cabin, that is the place it belongs to me– Allicia Kelly on her opinion of the character of Red River Cereal

In 1924, a lady named Gertrude Edna Skilling got here up with the recipe in her kitchen in Winnipeg. Her husband was the president of the Red River Grain Co. and began manufacturing it. It was then bought by Maple Leaf Milling Co. in 1928 after which Smuckers in 1995. 

Rinker mentioned he realized how dissatisfied prospects had been once they discovered the cereal was now not being produced. 

“The discord was fairly related when the mill went up on the market final August,” Rinker mentioned, including there was worry the iconic mill can be closed and bought to a developer. 

Red River Cereal is now owned and bought by Arva Flour Mill in Ontario. (Arva Flour Mill web site)

He mentioned individuals had been relieved when the mill stayed in operation and he figured many can be equally happy on the return of the iconic cereal. 

Rinker then started discussing the acquisition with Smuckers over the course of the yr and it was finalized in June 2022. 

A press launch mentioned the unique recipe was barely altered in 2011 to incorporate metal minimize wheat and rye, however that Arva can be reverting it again to the unique recipe and together with cracked wheat and rye. 

The launch mentioned the mill is within the technique of buying a hammer mill to crack the grain.

“Cracking the grain will lead to a extra creamy texture and restore the cereal to its authentic manner,” in response to the discharge.

For Allicia Kelly, who made the unique submit searching for the cereal, Red River Cereal is part of the northern material — her dad and mom and grandparents spent a whole lot of time at bush camps the place a hot cereal to start out the day was every day routine. 

“Being out a subject camp, or a bush camp or a cabin, that is the place it belongs to me,” she mentioned. 

And she’s comfortable a staple of life within the bush is returning. 

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