DELIVERY IS FREE when you purchase $50 or more
About the Abbey’s store
Val Notre-Dame Abbey was founded in 1881 by the Bellefontaine Abbey in France under the name “Abbaye cistercienne Notre-Dame-du-Lac.” On March 1, 2009, the community left the Oka site, where it had been established since its foundation, to settle in Saint-Jean-de-Matha, in Lanaudière, taking the name “Val Notre-Dame Abbey.”
The community flourished rapidly. In 1892, it was home to more than 100 monks and became the motherhouse of two other Cistercian foundations, in Mistassini and the Prairies (Manitoba). Sources of income, however, were a pressing issue. According to the Rule of St. Benedict and the community’s constitution, monks were required to live from the work of their own hands and not from possible donations.
On February 18, 1893, Brother Alphonse Juin, a monk from Entrammes in France, knocked on the monastery’s door and offered an unexpected solution: the recipe for an award-winning cheese called Port-du-Salut. And this is how Oka cheese was born. Its success was enormous and immediate. It won first prize during the Montreal Exposition in 1893 and once again the following year, during the Quebec City Exhibition.
From 1893 to 1974, the Abbey’s monks were able to support themselves thanks to the income generated by the sale of Oka cheese. As the years went by, however, the business’s growth had become so important that it was no longer possible for the community to maintain it while pursuing the spiritual objectives of monastic life. The time had now come to pass on the secret of the Oka cheese to true entrepreneurs. And so, Agropur took over in 1974.
During this period, the community had an apple orchard, a maple grove and a garden. It also ran a store by the roadside leading to Oka’s provincial park. In 1977, the monks opened le Magasin de l’Abbaye inc. Even though Oka cheese is no longer made by the monks, it continues to this day to be sold in their store, along with other products, mostly made with apples. Later on, in 1989, home-made sucre à la crème (cream fudge) was added to their product offering, then fine chocolates, peanut butter, two collections of Cistercian books and, in 1998, fruit cake.
Today, the Abbey store pursues the same mission: to enable the monks of Val Notre-Dame Abbey to support themselves by selling a range of food products prepared by the monks themselves, as well as local products and books. In 2014, new food products were added, mostly edible forest products, such as herbal teas and wild mushrooms, from the Abbey’s forest.