Tofino is, for Canada, the end of the line—all roads come to a dead-end here. This is the far west of the West Coast and known, in some parts, as “Hawaii of the North”. Tofino is where Kim and Cam Shaw, originally from Lloydminster, Alberta/Saskatchewan (a border city), now call home. “After we visited [Tofino] for the first time, we couldn’t stop thinking about it,” says Kim, “so when friends told us of a chocolate shop for sale we thought, why not”. Kim, working in a marketing position at a sign shop at the time, and Cam, a graphic artist, quit their respective jobs, packed up, and drove out west. When the moving truck left Lloydminster, the pair had yet to secure a residence in Tofino, but they were the proud new proprietors of Chocolate Tofino with no training in anything chocolate other than eating it.
The red door of Chocolate Tofino is a marker in the gravel mini outdoor Tofino-style mall and it’s the smell that intoxicates as you enter the shop, where a group of seven fastidiously work in a 250-square-foot space. The Shaws and team produce an astonishing quality and quantity of chocolate—wild blackberry buttercream, hazelnut rainforest crispy log, salted caramel, maple syrup vanilla bean caramel, La Maya truffle with organic chilies. And as if chocolate wasn’t enough, the house-made gelatos (exceptionally good lavender and wildflower honey) and sorbets inspire surfers to hang ten. (As power outages occur frequently in Tofino, gelato is half price when the power is out.)
Chocolatier Gordon Austin, the founder of Chocolate Tofino, taught the husband-and-wife team the chocolate ropes and the Shaws continue to churn out handcrafted goodness on-site using top-notch ingredients with no preservatives. Cam and Kim use local ingredients too, with lavender from Happy Valley Lavender and Herb Farm outside of Victoria; Vancouver Island honey, specifically Babe’s and Fredrich’s; and pick their own blackberries in the hills around Tofino. Eleven years and counting, Chocolate Tofino continues to be a draw and oftentimes, there is a lineup for entry that wraps around the building. The chocolate shop doesn’t open until 10:00 a.m. and decidedly so, “so we can get in our morning surf,” says Cam. Welcome to Tofino.