A story of heart and squeaky cheese

Published on November 21 2023

LaTrappe à fromage. Whether you grew up in the area or have adopted the Outaouais as your home, youre probably familiar with this cheese shop and its famous cheese curds. For nearly 30years, the logo of the little mouse feasting in his trap has been a mark of freshness and quality. For MarioHébert and GillesJoanisse, LaTrappe à fromage also means passion, vision and family. 

A meeting that changed everything

Mario (a Franco-Ontarian cheesemaker) and Gilles (an accountant from Gatineau) were complete strangers when their paths crossed in 1994. Gilles was immediately impressed by Mario’s professional skills. “You could tell that he was passionate about what he was doing and that he took great care to produce quality cheese,” says Gilles. At the time, there was no cheese factory supplying Gatineau with fresh cheese. 

Gilles and Mario decided to embark on their entrepreneurial adventure with a clear mission: to provide the people of Gatineau with fresh cheese 362 days a year. Between the opening of their first store on Maloney Boulevard in 1995 and the launch of their newest outlet in Chelsea in 2022, cheese production has grown from 150 kilograms per day to over 1,500 kilograms per day. With seven shops in Gatineau and the Collines-de-l’Outaouais, and products available in most of the region’s supermarkets, it’s safe to say that the two co-owners and founders have succeeded in their mission. 

Two close-knit families

As the business has grown, so have Gilles and Mario’s families. “We’re very lucky to have children the same age who share the same passions,” says Mario. Their sons have been involved in the business since 2018 and are gradually taking it over. “It’s really fun to see our kids so involved. You can tell they care about the business,” says Gilles. 

Alex, Gilles’ son, has lots of ideas for taking La Trappe à fromage to the next level: “We want to renovate the stores, expand the factory, and offer our customers an even more complete experience by adding bistro areas, like the one here in Chelsea. We’re really motivated.” 

Mario’s son Kevin is the fifth generation of the Hébert family to make cheese. For him, developing new fine cheeses and distributing them to even more markets outside Quebec is a great source of pride and motivation for the company’s future. 

A source of regional pride

“One of the things that makes me really happy is when I travel to another region—Montréal, for instance—and someone recognizes the La Trappe logo and tells me about the products they like,” confides Mario. 

One of the most popular products is L’Attrappe Cœur, a creamy Brie-style cheese that has won several awards over the years. The company also recently introduced a new product, Le Petit Bouclier, a round cheese with a slightly stronger flavour. The name is a reference to Gatineau Park, the birthplace of the Canadian Shield rock formation (in French, “le Bouclier canadien”). 

“It’s important to us that people in our region feel connected to the cheese factory. If they’re proud of our products, and they see other regional products in our stores, we know we’ve done a good job,” says Gilles. The four co-owners agree on the importance of promoting Quebec’s culinary expertise by stocking and selling a wide range of local products.  

As the years go by and the business grows and evolves, one thing is certain: La Trappe à fromage is, and will continue to be, an essential gourmet destination for Gatineau residents and visitors from elsewhere who have become fans of this local business. 


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