The Kristapsons Story
Kristapsons Smoked Salmon has always been a family and community business.
My childhood memories of time there are full of the sweet smoky scent of
the Queen Street store, the tingle of the bell as customers come in, and
the long hours as our family worked together to prepare for the annual
From its first opening seven decades ago, Kristapsons has been the home of Toronto’s finest smoked salmon. It all started in 1953 when Adlofs Kristapsons, newly arrived in Canada from Latvia, opened his storefront. It was located then, as it is now, at 1095 Queen Street East.
Back then it was called Kristapsons Meat and Sausage Factory. It was a place where families shopped for Latvian meat, sausages, smoked fish and other food. The quality of food and friendly atmosphere created a destination for the Latvian community and Kristapsons quickly became a meeting place where friends could connect.
At Queen Street, Adolfs built the first smokers that allowed him to make salmon
using the cold-smoking methods of his homeland. Using a traditional recipe and
simple ingredients, he created a delicious, unique product renowned for its taste
and texture. We haven’t changed the original recipe one bit.
Adolfs worked closely with Osvalds Indzers, a fellow Latvian, to serve their growing market. Eventually Osvalds purchased the business from Adlofs in 1964. As the store became known for in the wider Toronto community, Osvalds streamlined the business to specialize in its most popular product – cold smoked salmon.
A couple of decades later, at almost 80 years old, Osvalds sold the business to his nephew Andris Grinbergs and Andris’ partner – my mother - Suzanne Fraser. Together Mom and Andris grew their family and the business in Leslieville. My brother and I spent many days after school hours and weekends, smoking and wrapping fish as well as making deliveries. We worked alongside our parents beyond our university years.
The business continued to grow. We began to deliver to a number of wholesale customers throughout the city. Our North Toronto customers wanted a more convenient retail location, so we opened a second store on Yonge Street in 1993. Customers began to visit more frequently, wanting to enjoy salmon on week nights and weekends: we began selling smaller parcel sizes, including the popular ‘Bits and Pieces’ format. On holiday occasions, we got more help to manage the increased demand. It’s always so wonderful to see the same faces in the store, year after year, picking up holiday orders.
Andris ran Kristapsons until 2015 when he passed away at the age of 69.
Our family always knew that the Kristapsons business had to stay in the family.
A year later, I purchased the business from my brother: it was the same time
that I began to have a family of my own and my daughter Addie was born.
The city of Toronto is growing and changing all around us. I am proud to be able to continue to the Kristapsons traditions, smoking our salmon at our Queen Street location just as we always have. I’m grateful for our amazing team - Jo, Tina, Sylvester as well as Chris, David, Grace and my mother, Suzanne. We’ll continue to be here for you - creating Toronto’s favorite smoked salmon.
Thank you for making Kristapsons part of your occasions.
I hope to see you soon.