In 2001, La Cigale first opened its doors in a small heritage house on the main street in Old Chelsea. Offering freshly churned ice cream to residents, hikers and visitors to the Gatineau Park, we gradually became known for our fresh take on that simple pleasure. In 2009 we moved to a larger space just around the corner. We were able to add a wraparound porch and extend our garden; all with the intent of growing our business in a way that continues to emphasize fun, relaxation and genuine goodness.
Why I decided to start an ice cream shop
In 1998, my husband, George, got a contract to work overseas for 6 months. We jumped at the chance to try living somewhere new. The idea sounded very exciting and adventuresome. So I quit my job working at a local restaurant, we gave notice to our landlords, and we packed up our few belongings including 3 foodie magazines (I had to limit myself) and moved to Senegal, Africa.
While we did find adventure and excitement in Senegal, there was a lot of time to sit and wait, and I got to know those 3 foodie magazines inside and out. While sweating my way through the rainy season, I really latched on to one particular article from Bon Appetit that featured the best homemade ice cream in the United States. It sounded like a great idea! I love to make people happy with food, and ice cream equals happy, so it seemed a natural fit.
So when we got home I signed myself up for a few ice cream courses at Penn State and the University of Wisconsin. It took a couple of years to get going – all the boring stuff like financing and businesses planning, but in the end we found a great little storefront on the main drag in Chelsea where we could get started. And the rest is history!
La Cigale Homemade Ice Cream
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Maggie working her magic!
When La Cigale first opened, we were very, very, small. So small in fact, that I did just about everything myself. We couldn’t afford it any other way. I painted the walls, I made the menu boards, I did the garden, I did the bookkeeping, I served the customers and often times, when my husband, George, would come home from his money-making job, we would make ice cream together. It was your classic start up business, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, and hope it all works out …How romantic!
La Cigale has grown since then, and so has my family. I have 3 wonderful kids now, who keep me hopping, and there is no way I can stay up to 2 am anymore making ice cream. This is where my manager Maggie comes in. She showed up one day at my door looking for work again after having her son William. I don’t think at the time it occurred to me how much help I actually did need.
Maggie has become my right hand woman and on some days, my left as well. She runs the kitchen at La Cigale making ice cream 5 days a week throughout the summer. But her talents don’t end there. She’s one of those people who knows how to fix just about anything. –A devoted employee, a good friend, a task master and a fantastic ice cream maker, she’s the best thing that could have happened to La Cigale.
LA CIGALE – Where the name comes from
La Cigale – is a popular french fable that many francophones learn in school. (The translated version is slightly different in that it uses a grasshopper instead of the Cigale.) A Cigale, or cicata is the insect that you hear on those hot summer days singing their high-pitched songs in the ditches at the side of the road..
While the original fable was suppose to be a lesson on the importance of being hard working, at La Cigale we really want to celebrate the Cigale and encourage people to enjoy the here and now, remembering to take time to appreciate the little things.
We want our customers to relax and enjoy their visit to our shop. –We want La Cigale to be a place where people can, briefly, forget all their responsibilities, and daily stresses, and enjoy a simple pleasure – like good ice cream.
La cigale et la fourmi
La Cigale, ayant chanté
Se trouva fort dépourvue
Quand la bise fut venue:
Pas un seul petit morceau
De mouche ou de vemisseau.
Elle alla crier famine
Chez la fourmi sa voisine,
La priant de lui prêter
Quelques grains pour subsister
Jusqu’à la saison nouvelle.
“Je vous paierai,” lui dit-elle,
Avant l’Oût, foi d’animal,
Intérêt et principal.”
La fourmi n’est pas prêteuse:
C’est là son moindre défaut.
“Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud?”
Dit-elle à cette emprunteuse.
“Nuit et jour à tout venant
Je chantais, ne vous déplaise.”
“Vous chantiez? J’en suis fort aise.
Eh bien! Dansez maintenant.”
The Grasshopper and the Ant
One fine day in winter some Ants were busy drying their store of corn, which had got rather damp during a long spell of rain. Presently, up came a Grasshopper and begged them to spare her a few grains, “For,” she said, “I’m simply starving.” The Ants stopped work for a moment, though this was against their principles. “May we ask,” said they, ‘what you were doing with yourself all last summer? Why didn’t you collect a store of food for the winter?” “The fact is,” replied the Grasshopper, “I was so busy singing that I hadn’t the time.” If you spent the summer singing,” replied the Ants, “you can’t do better than spend the winter dancing.” And they chuckled and went on with their work.
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