Cutting Down the Willow Tree

Posted: October 2, 2016 Category: Media Releases, Our Team, Vendor,

Woytko Stawniczy literally sold the farm to follow his dream of feeding Mundare Sausage to Alberta. He started his dream out of the general store on his family farm in Mundare, Alberta, where he worked and tweaked a family recipe until one day, he asked his daughter, Verna, to round up some customers to try samples. The sausage he made that day, fresh and hot, plus straight from the smoker, was so good that his taste testers fell in love with it and pushed him to make it full time.

“I remember being by his side when he cut down a willow tree into little pieces for wood to smoke the meat.”Verna Sharun (Stawniczy), daughter to Woytko and sister to Edward E. Stawnichy.

“And the sausage that day was so good … I can still taste it,” she says. “After that day, business slowly started to take off, and it wasn’t long before he sold the farm and moved the general store into town.”

She explains that the general store was a main destination point for the small towns and communities surrounding Mundare. People came from Hilliard or Lamont, some in shiny, new cars if they could afford one, but most arrived in horse and wagon, and all left with gas, oil, or a full box of groceries. As well as a fresh ring of Stawnichy sausage. Eventually word spread that there was some really good sausage in Mundare. Soon everyone was talking about it or telling their friends. To this day, it is still our loyal customers that spread the word about Mundare Sausage and helped build the family name to where it is today.

Sharun explains that it was hard work to get the family business up and growing. “It wasn’t easy, and my mother would sit there and tie the sausage together with her fingers,” she says with a laugh and adds, “She had to put in two or three knots so it wouldn’t come apart. Even the smoke trees we used were originally made with treated wood so it wouldn’t burn in the smoker.”

Her brother Ed took an interest in working with his father, and together the family grew the business as a household name, and distributed to towns and communities outside of Mundare. Ed took over the business in 1971 and started advertising more until Mundare Sausage quickly spread across Alberta. Verna laughs and says that a lot has happened since those days. Especially when she thinks about the automated technology of the new smokers recently purchased by Stawnichy’s. In the past, even a change of weather, such as fog, affected the proper smoking of the meat. But, she says, that never happened with Woytko and his little smoker, no matter the storm or fog.

Not much has changed since then. We still wrap the sausage in traditional brown wrapping paper. There are still hard-working people behind the counter, servicing customers responsible for broadcasting the news about our world famous Mundare sausage. And there are still samples on the counter to feed anyone who might be hungry, or to tease the palette with some good, tasty sausage.

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