Last month, we introduced you to three small business owners in Cambridge/Branchton/Troy/St. George who appreciate mutuality – giving back to the community that supports them. This month, we visit Guelph-area where we spent time with three policyholders who also focus on making a difference in their communities and beyond. Enjoy reading about Mosborough Country Market, Ferra Flooring and Peter Breen Antique & Classic Boat Co. Ltd!
Mosborough Country Market
5284 Wellington Road 32, Guelph
Bruce Dickieson, co-owner of Mosborough Country Market, is the third generation of his family insured at Dumfries Mutual. Bruce followed in the footsteps of his father, Bert, serving on the Dumfries Mutual Board of Directors, until his 2021 retirement. Bruce’s grandfather too was a board member of Hopewell Creek, a mutual insurer that Dumfries Mutual integrated in 1955. Bruce is widely recognized as having served the interests of policyholders with common sense and integrity during his amazing 33-year tenure.
In 1999 Bruce and his wife, Sue, opened Mosborough Country Market on the Guelph Eramosa farm property on which he was born and raised. All of the products for sale are locally sourced, with the exception of tropical items, like lemons, limes, and avocados. The Dickiesons grow their own corn and pumpkins and also keep sixty Holstein heifers – the application of manure helps with moisture retention in their soil.
Bruce and Sue enjoy a strong sense of togetherness within the farming community. Mosborough and other country markets will pick up produce for each other at the food terminal in Toronto or at produce auctions. They will help out markets that may be short on particular produce. And, of course, they sell other farmer’s products in their store. Bruce enjoys the mutuality of the farming community, much as he enjoyed the community-mindedness of the people he met throughout his time spent in the insurance industry.
Currently Bruce is seeking re-election in October as the Ward 1 Councillor in Guelph-Eramosa Township. He has served in that capacity since 2018, having always had a great interest in politics and, we know from experience, enjoying working with and for his community.
Mosborough Country Market has a wide variety of produce and products for sale. Stop by and see what they have to offer!
322 York Road, Guelph
Excellent customer service is integral to Ferra Flooring. Like most small businesses, they rely on referrals so being able to provide knowledgeable and friendly customer service for a quality product at a competitive price is essential. Aaron Ferraccioli took over the business started by his father, Roy, in 1980. He recognized that a family business was the perfect vehicle for flexibility while pursuing a professional rugby career. For the past 15 years, it has provided him with the flexibility needed to serve as a volunteer firefighter with Puslinch Fire & Rescue Services, where he met fellow firefighter and his current insurance agent, Scott Parker. Having lived in Puslinch almost his entire life, being able to assist his community is very important to him. Whether helping people in an emergency situation or when planning a renovation, Aaron enjoys the personal connections he is able to build through his store and volunteerism.
Aaron’s daughter, Lexie, is poised to follow in her father’s footsteps. You’re likely to find her in one of three places: on the lacrosse field representing McMaster University where she is currently finishing her undergraduate degree; working as a volunteer firefighter for Puslinch; or at the store where she plans to commit full-time following graduation.
Because Ferra Flooring is a part of the Carpet One co-operative group, they are able to compete with, often beating, the pricing of large box stores while still being privately owned. This allows Aaron to make business decisions that best fit his and his community’s needs, such as buying domestic products as much as possible and employing their own installers to better control the quality of work at client locations.
Drop by Ferra Flooring in Guelph to see what products Aaron and Lexie have to offer. And if you’re lucky, the family’s American bulldog Remy (or Remi depending on if you ask Aaron or Lexie) might even be at the store to greet you!
Peter Breen Antique & Classic Boat Co. Ltd.
Sometimes you just need to follow your passion. Peter Breen’s passion for wooden boat making was first his hobby, then his career and now 40 years later is his legacy as evidenced by the fleet of wooden classic and antique boats he has restored or built as well as the craftmanship he has passed to his son, Jeff. Combined, the Breens have restored 46 boats, built 19 new custom boats, and completed countless repairs and refinishings. Each new or restored boat requires about two years of patient and exacting work!
The Breen family is renowned for excellent quality of work within the wider boating community, including the Antique & Classic Boat Society, as well as numerous international boat shows. A “Breen-built” boat holds its value.
Jeff’s talents lie not only in boat building, but also the building of furniture, having designed and created many substantial pieces for the home he shares in Rockwood with dad, Peter. A glimpse inside their custom-built lodge-like residence also reveals a large private collection of meticulously restored wooden heritage canoes, certainly museum-worthy by most standards.
Each project that Jeff and Peter work on is steeped in history. They have done extensive restoration on Ditchburn boats, for example, a popular manufacturer of wooden pleasure craft established in Gravenhurst in 1871 and operating until the 1930s. They are now highly prized, especially among Muskoka Lakes boaters. The Mint Julep, for example, is a 28’ Ditchburn cruiser that was ordered by Lady Eaton, of the famous Eaton retailer family, in 1928 specifically for its speed. Its namesake comes from her love of the drink. Another of their restoration projects, the 1928 Skookum, was restored from a wreck of an old hotel launch that Peter used to play in as a child.
Working from the skeleton of an existing boat allows the finished boat to retain its original manufacturer which proves more valuable. Peter and Jeff start with the frame of an existing boat and then restore to their former glories with input from the customer. They also build brand new boats, for customers not interested in the historical side. The mahogany and white oak boats are done the traditional way but with modern sealants. This means they require little to no maintenance and don’t dry out while in storage.
If you are intrigued to learn more, you may be interested in the book Master Boatbuilder: The Story and Work of Peter Breen by Rick McGraw. We also recommend you check out their web site and Instagram account to see their restorations on the water! They are a thing of beauty.
A special thank you to our amazing policyholders who share our vision. We wouldn’t be the company that we are without you.
Stay tuned for next month’s blog when we feature more of our amazing policyholders!