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Where to buy fresh game meat in Toronto?

A friend legally hunted a deer with others and another friend, who’s a great cook, is going to cook venison for us. I’m just wondering – If you don’t hunt, will you be able to buy fresh game meat (esp. bear, elk, wild boar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_(food) ) legally somewhere in Toronto? Are there any regulations on what/how/where the game meat can be served?

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  1. it is illegal for anyone to sell game meat in ontario. All meat must be farmed and inspected (except I think for Cariboo from the inuit)

    1. I just saw an ad for a store in St. Catharines that sells game meats, including elk and wild boar (all farmed, I presume). It's called Lake Land Game Meats. Here's their contact information:

      1226 St. Paul St. West
      St. Catharines, Ontario

      1 Reply
      1. re: E.D. Bell

        The Healthy butcher sells 'farmed game meats'. The deer & elk is really great, but 2nd best to being able to hunt it yourself.


        p.s. Bear isn't all that tasty...

      2. Black Angus carries a very broad selection of game meats, though most meat they carry is frozen, with only a small selection of fresh. Call before you go if fresh is what you want to see what they are csrrying that day.

        I tried smoking the frozen kangaroo ribs and discovered too late that they probably needed to be braised instead, and for a very long time.


        1. I don't know where you are located, but why not try a farmer's market?

          Here's the webpage for the (year round) Dufferin Park Market - I see red dear, "wild" boar and other things such as organic lamb, goat, and ducks...: http://dufferinpark.ca/market/wiki/wi...

          Then there's the St. Lawrence Market - Di Liso's in the south market has game birds, and on Saturdays, 2nd Wind Elk is in the north market...White House Meats (south market), though pricey, have some or all of pheasant, squab, Guinea fowl, quail, partridge, duck, goose, venison, buffalo, elk, ostrich, wild boar, musk ox, kangaroo, and wild rabbit, depending on the day. And they are open Tuesday-Saturday:

          Happy ummm...hunting...?

          1. Unfortunately, legal restrictions prevent the sale of freshly hunted game meat in Ontario. I grew up eating hunted game of all sorts, and have found the taste to be drastically different from farmed animals. Properly hunted, butchered and aged game is really an exceptional gustatory experience. Your best bet is to stay good friends with this hunter!

            And I agree with legourmettv-avoid bear meat.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

              Inuit game can be sold here, but the chefs get first grabs

              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                I used to frequent a game focused restaurant called The Carlsbad on Yonge south of St Clair way back when and I had bear bourguignon and it was actually quite tasty. I suspect preparation has something to do with it.

                1. re: Aardvark

                  Bear meat is something I avoid for several reasons; the taste, the way in which the animal is hunted, and because the Cree I grew up with do not eat it for spiritual reasons.

                  1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                    Bear baiting? I remember watching a French (Breton) chef throw fish scraps behind his restaurant near Gaspe. When the bear season began, he could shoot a bear every night.

              2. If done well, hunting, field dressing, aging, and butchering your own venison produces the tastiest, healthiest, local meat you'll ever experience. But hunting is expensive, time-consuming, bloody, physically exhausting, and there's no guarantee of success. As I got older, poorer, and weaker, I switched to fully grassfed farmed bison and elk. The elk satisfies my venison urges, and the bison replaces beef in my meals. I've been buying direct from the farms for many years, usually purchasing quarters or sides. It also takes time, effort, and money to discover farmers you can trust and also abattoirs/butchers that know how to hang, age, cut, and package the meat. Loss of rural infrastructure, particularly abattoirs, has made if difficult to find butchers that have had experience beyond cows, and there is a difference when butchering bison and deer.
                I've had trouble with consistency at all points in my short supply chain. I keep my freezer full and sell off some of my extra product to friends and a couple of retail outlets. I don't worry about fresh vs frozen since I don't find much difference in the taste or texture. Truly hunted fresh meat would only be available for a few weeks a year because the hunting season in Ontario is only a few weeks long in the fall.

                2 Replies
                1. re: torontovore

                  And how does one get on your good side...?

                  1. re: morrigan

                    I had the same thought, but my freezer is full. Check torontovore's website, maybe it will be updated soon. Nice coverage of weekend foodie jaunts in Ontario.

                2. Caribou is definitely legal, and out there.
                  I was served Caribou by Michael Stadtlander this week.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: erly

                    Caribou/reindeer are a traditional free-range resource, a true venison taste experience. Although some caribou/reindeer may be legally sold in Ontario, the rules and regulations are inconsistently applied. Caribou can be easily sourced from northern Canada, Alaska, and Greenland but getting permission to sell it is not so easy. There is an ongoing marketing war that is a mashup of native producers, their national/provincial/regional governments, politicians, and bureaucrats. Stadtlander may have enough of an international reputation to bend the rules, or he may actually have some government approved product from a Canadian first nation source. Meanwhile quantities are seriously limited for the rest of us.

                    1. re: torontovore

                      I am certain that Stadtlander used only "legal" game.
                      This was served at a charity food and wine pairing dinner with ten of Canada's top chefs, and each preparing a course..

                      1. re: erly

                        'Charity' functions are widespread if you want to serve 'wild' game. It is the only 'legal' way that wild game of Ontario origin can be served. Essentiall you buy a ticket to a prepared 'dinner' - you can't order the game off a menu as such. There are several of these around Woodbridge most years.
                        All menu available Game is farmed or bought in (the vendor has a permit) usually from NWT.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          Thanks for the info.
                          I had no idea.
                          What is the logic behind this rule?
                          Also, had a nice chat with Statlander about his new restaurant.
                          Fortunately, after I sent this course back untouched, as I don't ear anything that is shot.
                          Sorry game lovers.

                          1. re: erly

                            The 'logic' is that the meat has not been inspected (by whatever agency is currently responsible) so we start with a 'not allowed'. However NWT licences certain 'approved' vendors, so the meat can be sold with a permit.
                            As to why the 'charity' events gain an exemption - I think I know the logic (but not the letter of the law). When selling an 'event' a permit is required (typically an LLBO - more accurately AGCO). Essentially you can only get these if it is a charitable event or an event sponsored by a consulate - all others require a more permanent licence. I recall the phrase "no intention to make a profit either directly or indirectly". There may be a grey area for a non-profit organizations - but as the LCBO/AGCO don't seem to publish their 'regulations' it's difficult to know what the 'real' rules are. But apparently it helps to be a politician!
                            I'm guessing that people who contribute to charity and employees of foreign consulates have sufficiently strong constitutions that they can tolerate uninspected meat.

                            1. re: estufarian

                              Wild Game cannot be sold or served in a restaurant.. I am guessing these charities you make a donation not buy a meal ticket.. and if it is not a real reastaurant then they cannot shut them down for serving un inspected meat.. I agree most likely a loop hole people take advantage of that if it gained in popularity would be shut...

                            2. re: erly

                              Erly, does that restrict you to kosher or halal meat, killed by knife? I have read that very large animals, such as cattle, bison, or large pigs, are stunned, then shot, in our abatoirs. If it is not done right, the animal is conscious and suffering before the second shot. Here is some recent information on California conditions:



                    2. OnDaGo was sort of right, but it would have been clearer if he had said it is illegal for anyone to sell hunted meat in Ontario. You can, however, buy a great deal of meat in the province from farmed animals that fall in the category of "game" (elk, boar, venison, ostrich and so on). That meat is killed at an inspected slaughterhouse.

                      You can hunt a game animal and take it to a slaughterhouse to be eviscerated and cut up (but the slaughterhouse must be licensed to do this and keep the hunted meat separate). And you can't sell this meat or serve it at a "food premises". Almost any place in Ontario that sells prepared food is a food premises.

                      The exceptions are:

                      - boarding houses that provide meals for fewer than ten boarders;

                      - food premises owned, operated or leased by religious organizations, service clubs and fraternal organizations where the religious organization, service club or fraternal organization,
                      (i) prepares and serves meals for special events, and
                      (ii) conducts bake sales; and

                      (d) farmers’ market food vendors.

                      (3) The exemption provided for in clause (1) (c) is subject to the conditions set out in paragraphs 1 and 2 if a religious organization, service club or fraternal organization mentioned in that clause prepares and serves meals for a special event to which the general public is invited, and hazardous food that originates from a food premise that is not inspected under this Regulation is included in such a meal:

                      1. Patrons attending the special event shall be notified in writing as to whether or not the food premise has been inspected in accordance with this Regulation. The notice shall be posted in a conspicuous place at the entrance to the food premise at which the special event meal is held.

                      2. The operator must keep a list of all persons who donate hazardous food for the special event meal and must provide a copy of that list to a public health inspector on request. The list must contain each donor’s name, address and telephone number in full.

                      Personally, if I saw all that on the wall I might at least think twice about having dinner.
                      etufarian, the exception is not totally because of a "profit" vs. "non-profit" motive - but also because these events tend to be small and the folks know each other...and...if there was a food safety problem then tracking back the problem would be fairly easy.

                      Hope that helps!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ontario Food

                        Thanks for the accurate info - I couldn't find it anywhere - along with numerous other 'food regulations' (so-called) that are so secret that nobody will tell you what law you are potentially breaking.
                        Do you have 'chapter and verse' so I can review this legislation?
                        (The reason I want the reference is so I can avoid situations where I 'accidentally break non-existent laws' (most obviously when I had Italian butter confiscated because of 'foot and mouth' risk. When I asked for the appropriate reference they made me stand at an unmanned customs station for 30 minutes while they searched for someone who knew - and never found anyone - although by then the dangerous butter had been double bagged and carted off in a container marked 'Incineration').