Earlier this May, we had the pleasure and honor of hosting guest speaker, Gaetan Dugas during the 2017 Oyster Dinner. Throughout the evening guests enjoyed Dugas’ specialty oysters as well festivities that ran throughout the night. The Dugas family first settled in Caraquet, Canada in 1763 and with over 250 years of knowledge and respect for oysters the family business, The Ferme Ostreicole Dugas Ltee was officially founded in 1985. The business has been family owned and operated ever since. Passed down generation after generation, Gaetan Duagas, his wife Murielle and their three sons currently operate the business. The business was founded with the help of Gaetan’s father Alcide, whom was in the business his entire life, until he passed in 2012. The Ferme Ostreicole Dugas Ltee has blossomed into a thriving family business owning the largest oyster lease, of 75 acres, in the Bay of Caraquet. Caraquet Bay is located in the region of Kalaket, meaning the place where two rivers meet. The Bay’s unique configuration of salted marshes, mixing of fresh water and salt water, and sand dunes serving as storm protectors, provide the perfect natural habitat for the oysters. With the perfect habitat, the mystery of how the oysters develop their superior and delicate taste still lingers. The family does its own marketing into the Canadian and American markets, selling year-round its own products and that of 40 others oyster producers and harvesters.
Because of the very short growing season of the Caraquet Bay oysters, the Dugas’ family built a reputation by expertly farming small oysters. With deep respect for nature, the Dugas’ farming methods allow for the oysters to feed with the best natural nutrients from the sea by giving the right amount of time and care which is reflected in the taste of the oysters from the great quality and health of the shell. From the start of the business, the Dugas family continues to sustain the traditions of caring for and respecting each oyster. Every oyster is handled by hand, allowing protection for each one. For experts, like the Dugas family, oysters are known to have a unique language, similarly mimicking sign language. Those whom are in tune with nature can understand the language. Keeping within the family business, the Dugas’ believe that the process of handling each oyster should be cared for with respect. Oysters are living elements of the sea, and deem the respect of the handler.
The care and respect of the oyster is evidenced in the small but exquisite flavor and texture of the Dugas family oysters from Caraquet Bay.