Chapleau Hub – Café and Bar

A unique destination in a small Northern Ontario town

Updated: By Sandra Trainor

What to do with a church building that is no longer operating as a church? You repurpose it and create a buzzing community hub! That’s exactly what Victoria and Jason Rioux did in Jason’s hometown of Chapleau, Ontario.

The Chapleau Hub is the accidental brainchild of Victoria and Jason, who saw the school next door torn down and didn’t want to see the same fate for St. John’s Anglican Church, whose congregation was dwindling in numbers. It is also the oldest public building remaining in the community. “Jason made an off-the-cuff remark to the church minister, about maybe buying the property to save the church from the same fate as the school. About a year later, we got a call from the same minister telling us it was up for sale, and would you still like to buy it?”


The Rioux family, who live in Toronto, but travel ten hours north back and forth to Chapleau, decided to make a leap and buy the local church. “We are big on the preservation of historical buildings,” said Victoria.

The Renovation

Jason and Victoria set about thinking about what to do with the property. They held meetings with residents asking what they would like to see and did a lot of further research. Then they started renovations. The building was set up as a church and not anything else. The basement, which had beautiful stone walls, was gutted. They decided to open a café and bar there. Upstairs, they renovated to live in the space for a few years.


A wood-fired oven was installed at the property.

Today, the upstairs is available for events and gatherings, or third-party accommodation rentals. The basement is where the hub part of Chapleau Hub begins. Building a new entrance that leads directly into the basement, where food and drinks are served, was essential. There’s even an outdoor dining area for when the weather allows. Musicians are invited to play, along with open mic nights and karaoke nights. A local drum circle uses the space regularly too.


Tasty beverages are served like this hot chocolate.

What’s On The Menu

The menu for the café is small and simple. What makes it unique is that all the food is cooked in a wood-fired oven — the only one for many miles around. The Hub uses maple brought in from the Sudbury area. From pizza to macaroni and cheese, to fresh chicken wings, nachos and cheese, and hubdogs, the café boasts that everything is made from scratch, fresh, and in-house. “We even make our dough. We have created a memorable experience,” says Victoria, “Tourists and area workers all love coming to the hub. We’ve had some people tell us that they plan their trip to Chapleau around when the hub will be open.”


Mac and Cheese in the wood-fired oven.

The response from the community has been very positive. Some of the staff are volunteers from around the community who care deeply about making sure the Hub stays open. “Our goal has always been about community. A welcoming mindset has been part of our success,” says Victoria, “Our family lived in Chapleau for a few years getting the Chapleau Hub established and running. We have now moved back to our home in Toronto. We are interested in someone else taking over the business but will wait for the right person and the right fit.”


Wood-fired pizza on the patio.

In the meantime, this repurposed historical building has been preserved. The Chapleau Hub will continue serving its delicious food and drink and be a vital hub for people to gather and enjoy themselves. Well done Jason and Victoria!


Affogato dessert off the espresso machine.

Chapleau Hub

Owners: Jason and Victoria Rioux
4 Pine Street West, Chapleau
PH: (705) 904-1000
For hours and days of operation, please check in on social media
Instagram: @chapleauhub

About Sandra Trainor

Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Sandra is a Freelance Marketing Consultant. Sandra recently returned to her hometown and believes that food brings people together, no matter what their background and that food grown and produced close to us should be not only supported, but celebrated.

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