Canada Cheese served on Canadian Trees

Experiencing and enjoying cheese involves more than taste and texture. There are the additional elements of time, place, accompanying foods, presentation and people. When all of these elements meld together perfectly the result is … cheese nirvana.

Today I am focused on the element of presentation after learning of Bill Major, a Canadian cheese board artist. Bill resides on the edge of Lake Simcoe in Ontario, Canada. He has a love for wood and woodcraft in a way similar to cheese makers. He takes a raw material (wood instead of milk) and creates something special. He has chosen to create cheese boards to satisfy his artistic passion.

Bill Major and his Rustic Live Edge Cheese Boards

Bill Major and his Rustic Live Edge Cheese Boards

Bill produces “live edge” cheese boards. These are basically slices of a tree trunk, bark and all. By cutting the tree this way it’s growth rings are exposed. Each ring represents one year of the tree’s life. You can determine the tree’s age, when it was harvested, by counting the number of rings.

Bill developed a special three month drying process to prevent the wood from cracking as it loses moisture. The boards are then sanded in preparation of the finishing process. In the same way that a cheese maker must tend to a cheese as it ages, Bill works the cheese board through a ten step finishing system. It is done by hand and it takes a week. The end result is a beautiful rustic functional cheese board that is moisture resistant and food safe.

I appreciate a good Canadian cheese and I think the appreciation is elevated when that cheese is presented on a nice wood cheese board … especially a cheese board made in Canada, from a Canadian tree, by an artist.

Live Edge Cheese Board by Bill Major

Live Edge Cheese Board by Bill Major

Bill has his cheese boards displayed at several retail locations which are listed on his website or you can email him directly at to purchase one.

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with this product. I just think they are nice.

Dags and Willow Cheese Shop – Collingwood

Ontario has enjoyed a lot of snow this year. It put me in the mood for some skiing at Blue Mountain which is a ski resort about two hours north of Toronto.

Blue Mountain - Image from Google Images

I visited Blue Mountain a few weeks ago to ski with my family. Skiing is hard work for an old guy like me. I get tired and hungry after chasing my wife and children around the slopes for eight hours. That’s when I got a mild case of “cheese brain”.

“Cheese Brain” is when my stomach starts talking to my brain and says – “Hey brain – Go find me some cheese, I’m hungry!”

I was thinking that cheese would make a terrific Apres ski snack. I set out to find a cheese specialty store near the mountain. My online exploring led me to a website for Dags & Willow located in the town of Collingwood near the ski resort.

Dags & Willow has a good website, good enough to lure me to visit their store. Unfortunately I didn’t pay attention to their hours of operation and they were closed the day I tried to visit.

It was a cute store, in a good location, near the center of town.

According to their website the store is named after the owner’s dogs: Dagny, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and Willow, a Collie/Shepherd cross.

They claim to have:

“the largest collection of cheese in the Collingwood area, offering over 100 varieties of cheese at any given time & a try-before-you-buy policy that goes beyond just their superb collection of cheeses.”

They also advertise cheese boards. I would love to check out their boards since I haven’t had much luck finding a store with a good selection of high quality cheese boards.

Cheese Board from Dag's and Willow - image from their website

Their website has an option to subscribe to a newsletter, which I did. I have received two emails since I subscribed. The newsletters are well written and informative. I manage way too much email spam but Dag’s and Willow has hit the sweet spot of email frequency … not too much to annoy me, but enough to keep reminding me that they’ve got cheese I might want. It’s one, of just a few newsletters, that I actually read.

I found an article in the Toronto Star Article where Dag’s and Willow was rated the number one favorite food place in Collingwood by Michael Bonacini, a renowned chef and restaurant owner in Toronto. If Michael liked the store then I’m sure I will too.

I will be planning a stop at Dag’s and Willow the next time that I’m in Collingwood.