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Longtime local butcher in Pictou County closes up shop

Gordon Fraser weighs a chicken at his butcher shop in Millbrook, Pictou County, in this file photo. After struggling to get insurance for his property, he made the decision to close after 39 years in operation.
Gordon Fraser weighs a chicken at his butcher shop in Millbrook, Pictou County, in this file photo. After struggling to get insurance for his property, he made the decision to close after 39 years in operation.

MILLBROOK One of Pictou County’s last remaining places to have farm animals butchered has closed.

Gordon Fraser, who operated a small butcher shop in Millbrook, Pictou County, made the decision to close after struggling to get the building he worked in insured.

Gordon Fraser, who operated a small butcher shop in Millbrook, Pictou County, made the decision to close after struggling to get the building he worked in insured.

He said his insurance company called last fall and said they wouldn’t insure any of his properties unless he signed an affidavit saying he’d close his shop. He tried switching insurance companies, but they would only offer insurance on his home and barns, not the butcher shop.

After 39 years in operation and his own herd of cows to keep him busy, he decided not to bother trying to keep the business going.

“It was just one battle after another,” he said. “I didn’t want to get into that again.”

Fraser had provided his service to small farmers and people who raised animals in the area who didn’t have the facilities or knowledge to properly butcher animals.

Fraser said he will miss seeing his customers.

“We saw a pile of good people over the years,” he said. “You’re not going to see these folks like you were used to seeing them.”

He doesn’t know where his customers will be able to go now. He said it would require someone younger than him to open new facilities and get all the certification required today.

“With the cost of it all, what are you going to charge people?” he wonders. “It’s a hurdle. It’s too bad there wasn’t a standard you could live with.”

He said he can’t remember any health complaints in all his years of operating.

In 2014 he was told by the Nova Scotia Turkey Marketing Board he wasn’t allowed to butcher turkeys because he wasn’t registered with the board and didn’t have certification from the province to say it was an inspected site.

“You kind of get tired fighting uphill,” he said.

He thanked all those who have supported him over the years, though, including local politicians and customers who appreciated the service he provided.

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