October 2, 2019 - Egli's Sheep Farm is the story of how a small Swiss farming dream became a big Northern Ontario successful reality.
Located in Northwestern Ontario, Egli’s Sheep Farm is one of the largest sheepskin and wool manufacturer in Canada. They have managed to rise into the spotlight due to their exceptional customer service and quality products. The famous farm is located in Minnitaki, west of the city of Dryden. You know you’ve arrived when you see the giant sheep at the entrance to the farm.
Originally from Switzerland, Robert Egli moved to Northwestern Ontario in 1951 with plans to find work and raise money to eventually return to Switzerland. Robert always had a dream of owning a farm, so when an opportunity presented itself in the small town of Minnitaki, Robert changed his plans and decided to stay. In 1952 Robert and his wife bought the farm that is now known as Egli’s Sheep Farm. The region was perfect for raising sheep as there was lots of forage and land to raise sheep on. They started with 24 sheep and grew to include 450 ewes and 700 lambs yearly.
Due to the large distance to Southern Ontario, they had to learn to manufacture and process their products locally, selling around 300 lambs for meat a year to the surrounding areas. They expanded to open a retail shop and converted their garage into a sewing room with industrial sewing machines to manufacture their own sheepskin products in 1982. All products are all created on site and with a one-year warranty from the date of purchase. Their products range from sheepskin boot liners, to slippers, mitts, hats, seat covers and rugs. They also carry a variety of wool clothing products and many miscellaneous items that can be made from wool or sheepskin. Egli’s Sheep Farm started a mail-order business for their sheepskin products and have distributed over 250,000 catalogues across Canada and the US in 2014. With their products being in high demand, the Egli family could not keep up on their own. Now they import their sheepskin and wool from Australia and New Zealand but still create and manufacture their products in Northern Ontario. They further expanded their retail space in 2011 to be almost 4000 square feet to showcase their products on one open floor. Egli’s Sheep Farm currently employs around 12 local people to manufacture and run the family farm.
Not to mention, Robert is involved in the agriculture community which has resulted in Egli’s being recognized for its contribution to agriculture by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and by the Northern Ontario Business Association in 1988 for its business leadership. Robert passed the farm down to his son, Peter, to continue the family business in 1998.
Elgi’s Sheep Farm developed and opened an Animal Park in 2002 where the public can take a self-guided tour, pet and hold some of the domestic and exotic farm animals such as llamas, alpacas, donkeys, sheep, goats, caribou, guinea fowl and many others. Their annual Easter Saturday Open Barn event has become a tradition for many local families with over 3000 people attending the event each year to see the newborn animals and tour the facility.
Dreams do come true, and Egli’s Sheep Farm is the perfect example. Visit their website for more information or to purchase their products.
Evelynn Hoffman is the Communications Officer at NPI.
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