Butchers Of Distinction
By Marlene Leung

Ontario-Raised, European-Inspired

Located in an historic stretch of Toronto’s Riverside district, Butchers of Distinction showcases the finest meat and poultry that’s grown and raised in Ontario.
Founded by four partners hailing respectively from Scotland, Ireland, the U.S., and Sri Lanka, Butchers of Distinction is a “typical Toronto story,” says co-founder John W. Maxwell.

“All of the partners have come here because they believe that farming in Ontario is amongst the best in the world,” John says. “Our aim is to re-orient the consumer to that which is grown in his or her home, and that which benefits his or her local economy.” One way Butchers of Distinction “re-orients” the customer towards buying local is by being completely transparent about where the meat comes from.

All the meat and poultry in the shop is identified by the farm it was raised at, and the farm's location, as well as the type of feed used and name of farmer. “We want it to be 100 per cent traceable,” John explains. To boot, all meat on offer at Butchers of Distinction is antibiotic and hormone-free, because after all, John notes, whatever the animal eats is ultimately, “what you eat.”

Every consumer should be given the opportunity to know exactly what he or she is eating, and he or she is eating exactly what the animal is eating. - John W. Maxwell, co-founder
Butchers of Distinction proudly showcases Ontario-raised meat and poultry in a shop reminiscent of a classic European butchery.
Butchers of Distinction proudly showcases Ontario-raised meat and poultry in a shop reminiscent of a classic European butchery.

Whole Animal Butchery

While the level of transparency at Butchers of Distinction is certainly rare when it comes to meat and poultry purchases, it’s a right that the consumer should always have, John argues.“Every consumer should be given the opportunity to know exactly what he or she is eating, and he or she is eating exactly what the animal is eating.”

Customer favourites include the various cuts of heritage pork, sausages made in-house, and the free-range chickens, which Butchers of Distinction source from Deboer’s Poultry in Burlington, Ont. The shop also does custom orders, so you can have your meat cut, aged and smoked to your heart's desire.

But the ultimate shop specialty is the various cuts of beef which come from whole animals butchered right in the store.“This is not butchery that you see everyday,” he says. “It’s beef raised by individual farms, by individual farmers.”

Butchers of Distinction proudly showcases Ontario-raised meat and poultry in a shop reminiscent of a classic European butchery.
Butchers of Distinction proudly showcases Ontario-raised meat and poultry in a shop reminiscent of a classic European butchery.

The Opposite of Trendy

The interior of Butchers of Distinction is designed in a throwback style, reminiscent of a classic British butcher’s shop. It’s a fitting look, as the store has housed a butchery for nearly 70 years. A framed photo of the previous tenants, Sunnybrook Meats, is proudly displayed in the shop, evoking a sense of history and pride.

“This is what a butcher’s shop should look like,” says John of the interior. “It’s not trendy, it’s the opposite of trendy.” And that sense of tradition is carried right through into the top-notch service and expertise that comes from the staff, he says.

“Service is personal, it’s attentive and it is highly skilled,” he says. “We do not have counter hands. We have butchers here who can cut your meat to your order.”

Butchers of Distinction proudly showcases Ontario-raised meat and poultry in a shop reminiscent of a classic European butchery.
Butchers of Distinction proudly showcases Ontario-raised meat and poultry in a shop reminiscent of a classic European butchery.
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