Love Story

Love Story

Love Story

By Taylor Swift McGuire Chocolate


We were both young when I first saw you
I close my eyes and the flashback starts
I'm standin' there
On a balcony, of the Ship and Anchor, in summer air.

..We’ll take it from here, Taylor!..

Time stood still, as butterflies twirled, and they talked for hours on the first date. As afternoon faded to evening, Victoria finally pointed out that Mark had dirt on his forehead the whole time.  All these years later, and chocolate on the face is still a daily feature. 

Mark had a side project of exploring how to make chocolate from the cacao bean.  He had learned about cacao beans while recently having done a backpacking trip through Mesoamerica and upon returning to Calgary brought his curiosity with him.  After mentoring with Bernard Callebaut at Master Chocolat, and discovering that most chocolate professionals were not working with cacao beans, Mark invested in the chocolate making equipment, converting his apartment into a fully functioning tabletop chocolate factory, and spending the better part of a year crafting his first batches of chocolate.

Mark brought some of his chocolate on their first date. Victoria was to be his first taste tester and her reaction was authentic.  Blushing she admits, “It’s bitter”.  Little did Victoria know Mark was going to convert her from one of those whom proclaim “I don’t really like chocolate” to full fledge lover of all thing’s chocolate.

Love came fast and easy as the lovebirds quickly became inseparable. 

Cooking together while listening to vinyl’s, they learned there was a lot of crossovers in their record collections and many fun surprises too.  Victoria particularly enjoyed that Mark owned Taylor Swift’s 1989 album. Which is still “a great way to start the day”.  During the early days, it was clear that a common value shared was an emphasis on good food that is made with clean ingredients.   Mark remembers fondly a particular trip to Safeway for groceries that the two of them would read every ingredient label out loud to each other to find the best options.  They spent time talking about the lack of integrity in so many food products.

Mark had amassed a chocolate collection featuring single origin chocolate bars from around the world thanks to a specialty chocolate shop in Calgary; Coppeneur. The collection was filled with pioneer makers like Askinosie, Patric, Hummingbird and Dandelion.  One day, Mark and Victoria did a blind chocolate tasting featuring origins from around Africa. Victoria was blown away that dark chocolate had such complex flavours without extra ingredients. Every bar had a different taste: nutty, fruity, chocolatey… It was nothing like the candy bars she was used to. The focus on tasting chocolate was broadening her perspective, and doing it with a handsome man didn’t hurt things, either.

Then, a week or so later, the paradigm shifted with a ring of the doorbell on a Sunday afternoon.  A grandfather and his 4-year-old granddaughter had heard, through family and friends, about the home-based chocolate factory and arranged a visit.  As Mark passionately demonstrated the intricacies of the process, with delightfully inquisitive new friends, Victoria began to feel a shared connection to the journey.

Mark was nervous to meet Victoria’s cat, Hank.  Victoria had adopted Hank from the Calgary Humane Society a year before meeting Mark, and she gushed with love for him.  Mark was worried Hank may not like him and/or vice versa. Mark had never owned a cat before, so it was new territory.  “I remember the first meeting well”, Mark explains.  “Victoria and her brother Bill were having a bonfire in their backyard with a handful of friends, some of whom had big dogs.  All night I watched Hank participate in the gathering while keeping a safe distance. He moved along the top of the fence to a tree to a neighbour’s shed and around and round.  This was his house, and he was determined to be within ear shot and eye sight – yet with enough space that the dogs barely noticed him.  I was very impressed.”

Mark and Hank developed an especially strong bond after Mark cat-sat Hank for a month while Victoria was on a trip.  “Hank’s vanity was evident with his attention to detail while cleaning his fur, which he meticulously maintained.  Along with his warm affection and the insatiable need for long and frequent purr sessions..well, I was worried Victoria might have been a crazy cat lady but, as it turned out, it was me who’d end up being the crazy cat person.”

Mark and Victoria spent a long time discussing what they wanted to do together. They knew: they wanted to have a family, they wanted to spend as much time as possible together, they wanted to do something that they both loved. Then a year after they started dating Mark proposed to Victoria in their second Chocolate factory.  The initial proposal attempt was debunked when Mark buried the ring in the garden just before a storm rolled in.  Through the night a rabbit dug up and ran off with it, but it was a different carrot the rabbit was after, so the ring was recovered by Mark in the twilight of sunrise.  It worked out better to do it in the factory anyhow because “we got a solid morning of chocolate production before I could build up the nerve.  Plus, it’s a good reminder that every day in the factory together is a romantic date”.

It was only natural to leave their corporate lives and focus on the chocolate business they had been growing on the side for the last three years.

The chocolate business was fulfilling to each of them individually and as a collective unit. Mark – a St. FX business grad – loves accounting, numbers, recipe development and production planning. He always viewed entrepreneurship as a way to own his time and foster a family life. Victoria, really took to the creative and hands on elements of the business including packaging, machine maintenance, troubleshooting and cleaning. They are lucky to have skill sets that compliment each other.

In 2019 Mark and Victoria chose to move from Calgary to the seaside resort town of St. Andrews, NB. The decision to change from a big city to a small town considered a mix of business and lifestyle factors. While the easy living pace makes it a great place to raise a family, every day isn’t as rosy as Valentine’s.  Moving from one of the driest parts of Canada to a seaside town means more humidity. If you didn’t already know – chocolate and water do not mix. A more humid environment changes how you work with chocolate.  Learning to scale a business while adjusting to a new physical and social environment while opening a store/creamery/café while having children while becoming an employer while…well, the list actually goes on and on, but you get the picture.  Nobody said it would be easy and if it was then it probably wouldn’t be nearly as fun or interesting.  Through all the adversities, big and small, they persevere together hand in hand.

Now-a-days there are a lot more hands - and paws - in the mix.  The vision of a lifestyle where family time is woven in the fabric is taking shape. Mark and Victoria have two little boys who frequent the shop. When we ask them what they want to do when they start working in the factory, Charlie immediately replies with “make truffles!” while Connor wants to “make chocolate” and both want to make ice-cream – why?  “so that we can eat it all!”.


Valentine’s is a wonderful opportunity to take slow moments for savouring the abundance of love permeating boundless connections all around us.

Much love.

Mark & Victoria


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