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Salmon Arm couple latch on to local appetite for traditional meat pies

Becky Dochstader and Will Miller cook up new business, Holey Handpies
Becky Dochstader holds a sample of one of Holey Handpies’ new TV-dinner inspired options, while partner Will Miller carries a tray of meat pies just out of the oven at Zest Commercial Food Hub, on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

An 82-year-old English pie-making machine and positive feedback via social media prompted a crusty career path for Will Miller and Becky Dochstader.

Not long after the couple moved from Prince George to Salmon Arm in July of this year, Dochstader shared a post on Facebook asking the following: “How does the Shuswap feel about handmade meat pies? We just moved here and we brought our antique pie press ‘Hunty’ with us. We could possibly sell them online or bring them to the market, thoughts?”

The post included photos of the 1941 lever-operated mechanical pie press (still produced in the UK by John Hunt Bolton), and of the traditional English-style meat pies produced by Miller and Dochstader. The response they received showed Salmon Arm was hungry for what they had to offer.

“Over night, 500 people commented and were like ‘yes, we want meat pies, make our meat pies’,” said Dochstader. “Will and I were like, ‘We should make a go at this,’ and then fast forward three weeks, we had chatted with Interior Health, we got our business licence, we got our name registered, everything. In two or three weeks we were up and running as a business, in Zest (Commercial Food Hub), making pies and were at the (Downtown Salmon Arm) Farmers’ Market before the end of the summer.”

And so the couple’s new business, Holey Handpies, was born.

“This is a pie town too, that is another big thing,” said Dochstader.

“Oh yeah, Shuswap Pie Company, Laura’s Pies – amazing fruit pies,” added Miller, prompting the couple to share one reason for their recent move to Salmon Arm. Dochstader’s family live in the community and her mother, Denise, works at Laura’s Pies.

“We came to visit Becky’s family and we just fell in love with the town,” said Miller.

“Yeah, it’s a real Hallmark town,” added Dochstader. “It really just has a different feeling than a lot of other towns that we visited. It’s small but there’s just so many community festivals and events…

“Also… the people in this town have been so supportive, actively going out of their way to come to the farmers market or say ‘hi’ to us on the street.”

Miller has an extensive culinary background and is a trained salumist (one who makes high-end charcuterie and sausages) as well as an entrepreneur. He’s an owner of Birch and Boar Charcuterie and Provisions in Prince George. Dochstader is an elementary school teacher, but has been employing her background in marketing and graphic design to promote Holey Handpies.

The couple’s current Holey offerings include their Black Pepper Beef Pie, an English Apricot Pork Pie (that includes sausage made by Miller) and, for a more Canadian fare, a Chive Cider Chicken Pie with a gravy flavoured with cider from Salmon Arm’s Northyards Cider Co.

“I’m a Canadian girl through and through and I love chicken pot pie,” added Dochstader, who said the pairing with Northyards led to a different flavour that she fell in love with – as have others. “I think that’s probably our best seller.”

The couple’s Holey Handpies have sold out a number of times at the farmers’ market, with some people taking home up to 12 pies at one time.

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“I was just amazed that people who have never tried our product are coming out and buying 12,” said Dochstader.

Will understands the appeal. He said when he lived in England he would pick up a pork pie that “you can literally throw in your pocket – you get on the tram and can eat some of it for breakfast.”

“Every country in the Commonwealth has a meat pie standard based on the traditional English pies and we don’t in Canada,” explained Miller. “We have wonderful meat pies here, we have tourtière, we have shepherd’s pies and cottage pies… those are all based a lot more on American kind of pies. Ireland, New Zealand and Australia have these huge meat pie industries. It’s their national pride. So we’re just trying to do a Canadian version of that here in Salmon Arm.”

Dochstader and Miller have branched out with the introduction of a TV dinner-inspired dual pie package, a two-compartment tin that offers a savoury meal on one side and a sweet dessert on the other. One has the chicken pie paired with a brown sugar anise blueberry pie. The other pairs the beef pie with a balsamic strawberry pie. The combos are separate but are baked together.

Looking ahead, Miller said the plan is to introduce a pie of the month, starting with a vegetarian option. Dochstader also sees a place for smaller pies that could be packed as student lunches.

“Being an elementary school teacher, I see the struggle every day of parents making easy quick lunches for kids,” she said. “I would personally love to do little hand pies for kids that could be eaten cold. A parent could pull out a pack of five from the freezer and could pack one every day for a kid’s lunch.”

Holey Handpies are currently available in Grillers Meats, at the Downtown Salmon Arm Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, and at Eagle Bay Mercantile. For more information, visit

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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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