Pinto on Food

Downtown Sarnia meat shop wants to take your plate for a ride on the wild side

Totally Game Meat is a shop in downtown Sarnia that claims to be Ontario's only retailer that exclusively sells game meat.

Jonathan Pinto visits Totally Game Meat, a shop in downtown Sarnia that sells meat from game animals

Megan and Diane Hadley own Totally Game Meat in Sarnia, Ont. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

If you're tired of the same old pork, beef and chicken for dinner, a shop in downtown Sarnia may just have the solution.

Totally Game Meat is a small retailer that claims to be Ontario's only meat shop that specializes solely in game meats.

Ontario-farm raised game animals, that is — under law, hunted meats cannot be sold for public consumption. Nearly a dozen varieties are on offer ranging from alpaca to guinea fowl and wild boar.

Totally Game Meat is located on Christina Street, just south of Cromwell Street in downtown Sarnia. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

This unusual shop is the brainchild of Diane and Megan Hadley, retired civil servants who were itching for a new opportunity.

"We were sitting around a campfire in Owen Sound .... and one of the girls, who happened to be a bison farmer, says, 'I'd like to stay ... but I gotta go to market tomorrow. I really wish someone would open a retail store," Megan explained.

"And that's when we said, 'That's a good idea. Why don't we do that?'"

How about a venison roast for Sunday dinner? (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

After two years of market research, red tape and establishing relationships with farmers, Totally Game Meat opened in August 2015, right in the heart of downtown Sarnia.

"If you look at the stores down here now, they're almost all locally-owned, artisan-type shops," Megan said. "[So we thought] 'Lets get into that artisanal area.'"

In addition to cuts of raw meat, Totally Game Meat produces sausages, pepperettes, and game meat-filled ravioli, perogies and even empanadas.

Hot lunches are also offered.

Totally Game Meats co-owner Megan Hadley makes their version of poutine, featuring house-made perogies, cheddar cheese and pulled wild boar. 1:27

Megan said carnivores concerned about overly gamey flavours have nothing to worry about.

"A lot of the gamey taste from hunted meats comes from where they get hunted — and so if you go north ... they eat pine," she said. "Because we buy local here [from farms] ... they eat other things."

Surprisingly, 90 per cent of Totally Game Meat's customers come from out of town.

The Hadleys have fun with their passion for game meats, selling shirts that read 'elkaholic' and website that proclaims "thank ewe for supporting local!" (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

"Windsor, Chatham, Wallaceburg, London, Toronto, Guelph — all over the place," Megan said, adding that word-of-mouth is their main source of new clients.

"[People come in and say] 'I went over to my brother's and he served us this bison roast' — and we said 'Where the heck did you get that?!'"

Totally Game Meat is located at 126 Christina St. N. in Sarnia.

Jonathan Pinto is CBC Windsor's food reporter. While this story was produced to coincide with Afternoon Drive's Feb. 2 live show in Sarnia, you can generally hear his latest tasty story every other Monday at 4:45 p.m. on CBC Radio One and at 6 p.m. on CBC Television's CBC News Windsor with host Arms Bumanlag.

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.