These pages summarize my unfortunate experience with Al Sebastian and his Canadian Classic FishFry business.

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March 2011 - What's up...

I haven't received any money from Al Sebastian (or Canadian Classic Food Products / Sunset Country Resort Services) and have been unable to contact him regarding plans for the 2011 season. He still lives in Thunder Bay but will not return phone calls or e-mails. Now I'm starting to get pissed off. Because of Al's financial irresponsibility and questionable ethics I've had to cancel a project that was planned for the Summer of 2011. I think it might be time follow some advice a former employer of mine often repeated... don't get mad, get even.



May-June 2011 - Let the games begin...

I began taking legal action through Small Claims Court. Small Claims Court is designed to handle claims up to a certain amount and increasing my investment by another $8,000 back in October would have eliminated my being able to pursue him through the Small Claims Court system. When the amount exceeds Small Claims upper limit, a lawyer is required, it's handled by the regular court process and the legal bills start adding up very quickly. I've got a feeling Al knew about this limit and wanted to push my investment above it.

During the Small Claims process Al kept a low profile (invisible, actually), didn't dispute any of my claims and as a result he's been found guilty. Now that I have a legal judgement against him the next hurdle will be recovering my investment plus accumulating legal costs. As far as I know he doesn't have a full-time job, he does a lot of cash deals and he appears to be very good at hiding his money. You'd think most people would have some sort of reaction to receiving court documents (I know I would) but not Al, he seems to be ignoring the entire matter hoping it'll go away. I'm getting the feeling that he's familiar with the legal process and maybe this isn't the first time he been in trouble.



Will the real Chef please stand up...

Al always claimed he was a certified Red Seal Chef who had lots of experience in the food industry and his former business partner Don Harris was just sort of involved with the business. Guess what... it turns out that Don Harris is a Certified Red Seal Chef (C.C.C, O.C.T). For your information, C.C.C is the Certified Chef de Cuisine designation which is the highest professional culinary recognition and accreditation in Canada. It sounds like Al was stretching things right from day one.



Financial fun 'n games...

I paid a visit to his bank with a Notice of Garnishment in hand. The nice folks at the bank informed me that his account has been closed since April 2011. They also told me that they remembered dealing with Al and didn't think much of him (that's a polite version of what I was told).
Here's the important bit though... I was told by the bank that "the bank initiated the account closure not the client", that sounds interesting I wonder what sort of "tricks" he was trying pull?

I had a look at some of my cancelled cheques. It turns out that Al used his birth certificate and a gold Mastercard for identification when he cashed one of the cheques. Al had to show identification because he didn't have an account with that bank, what I find curious is why didn't the bank ask for his Drivers Licence as photo ID? A Drivers Licence would make tracking him down so much easier (he probably knew that and avoided showing his Drivers Licence).



Odds 'n Ends...   (Updated: Nov 16/11)

Canadian Classic Fish and Game Spice Family... definitely not the Spice Girls. The Canadian Classic product line seems to have expanded to include a series of Fish & Game Spice rubs in the usual Original, Mediterranean, Roasted Garlic & Herb, Lemon & Herb, Cajun and Lemon Pepper Dill flavours. I came across these products during my travels in 2011, more on these discoveries later.

These products were available at several retail locations around Northern and Northwestern Ontario during the summer of 2011.

It looks like the Canadian Classic Food Products line is being sold all over the place.

There's only one problem, Al filed paperwork with the Ontario Ministry of Finance claiming he had ceased operations on April 21, 2011. Here's the Business Name Report I obtained from the Ministry of Government Services showing the cancellation. I wonder if Revenue Canada might be interested in hearing about Al's "creative" business practices?

Here's the entire Canadian Classic FishFry family of fish batter products. Original, Cajun, Mediterranean, Roasted Garlic & Herb, Lemon & Herb and Lemon Pepper Dill.
Canadian Classic FishFry Family of fish and beer batter products. Original, Cajun, Mediterranean, Roasted Garlic & Herb, Lemon & Herb and Lemon Pepper Dill.

A bigger Canadian Classic Fishfry bag?? It's still 560g!  BIGGER BAG * BETTER VALUE  A new label, more signs of recent business activity...
A bigger bag?? It still a 560g "zip-lock style" resealable bag, maybe the bag itself is physically larger.
Better value?? It's being sold for more than old "smaller" 560g bags. I guess that's what some people call marketing.


« Come to think of it it... Al must have some cash-flow in order to pay for product labels (like this one by Shout Media) and pay Due North Marketing to maintain his website.

When I started this page about my "adventures with Al" I wasn't sure if I'd be able to avoid using words such fraud, misleading, unethical, dishonest or con artist. It appears I was successful and have managed to keep things as business like as possible. So far, so good.

Did you notice the sponsored ads scattered around the page? I'm hoping they'll help offset some of my legal fees.



He's back...   (Updated: Nov 16/11)

Al's back in Sunset Country

Sunset Country is the region's travel & tourism promotion organization and their slogan is "The Great Canadian Experience". They've got a nice slogan, but I don't know if I'd call dealing with Al Sebastian a great Canadian experience. Al's also changed his promotional angle, he's now promoting himself as "Sunset Country Resort Services" although as you can see from this screen capture of their website it all points back to Canadian Classic Fishfry and Canadian Classic Food Products.
Update (Nov 18/11): It looks like Al's Sunset Country Resort Services page has been removed from Sunset Country's travel & tourism website. Who knows, maybe they found these notes and decided to take action. A big THANK YOU goes out to the Kenora Sunset Country organization!



Spreading the joy...   (Updated: Nov 18/11) Anglers Choice are carrying this stuff now

Wow... the product has spread to Southern Ontario. Anglers Choice near Sarnia is apparently stocking Canadian Classic Fishfry. I wonder if they have any idea of what they might be in for? Have they heard about the Sunset Country Resort Services personalized bottled water program?



A bigger pond...   (Updated: Nov 28/11)

Not even Facebook is safe from Al Sebastian. Sunset Country Resort Services now has a Facebook page and the icon that's displayed is a briefcase or possibly a suitcase. That seems appropriate since he's appears to be on the move and keeping a low profile. His page isn't public, so you need to sign up for Facebook before you can interact with him. How would you like to be his newest best friend?
Update (Nov 21/11): It turns out that the Sunset Country Resort Services Facebook page belongs to a fellow named Stafford who also lives in Thunder Bay. I found Stafford mentioned elsewhere as being the owner of Sunset Country Resort Services. There's only one problem... according to the Ministry of Government Services (Ontario), Sunset Country Resort Services is registered as a sole proprietorship belonging to our "pal" Al Sebastian. Maybe someone should give Stafford a "heads up", just in case.
Update (Nov 28/11): Sunset Country Resort Services Facebook page no longer lists Stafford as being the owner. Actually there's no longer any information listed on SCRS's Facebook page. This process of finding traces of "Al Activity" followed by a withdrawal reminds me of an old kids game called "Whack-A-Mole".



Maybe there is some truth in advertising...   (Updated: Nov 21/11)

I just noticed the Canadian Classic Fish & Game Spice logo... "Same Game, New Rules". At last a degree of honesty, he's definitely playing the same game with whomever he can draw in. New rules probably applies to the slight changes introduced in each iteration of the game.



Why is this taking so long...   (Updated: Nov 21/11)

When dealing with the court system everything takes time. Documents have be filed in a certain sequence and the defendant has a predefined amount of time to respond to most documents. In Al's case he didn't respond to a anything, so getting a judgment was relatively straight forward. The problems start when you're trying to Garnishee "stuff". There are only 2 steps in the process, it's the second one that contains a condition that favours the debtor (Al in this case) and throws a wrench into the works:

  • Step 1: COMPLETE and FILE a Notice of Garnishment form and an Affidavit for Enforcement Request (Form 20P) with the court office. The clerk will stamp the notice.
  • Step 2: SERVE. You then serve a copy of the stamped notice of garnishment and a blank Garnishee's Statement form (Form 20F) on the person or business that has the money (the "garnishee") owed to the debtor. You also serve a copy of the stamped notice and the affidavit on the debtor.

The part about giving a copy to the debtor gives the debtor a slight advantage. He knows what you're up to and can change tactics to avoid getting caught. As usual in our legal system, it appears that the criminal has more rights than the victim.



Spreading more joy...   (Updated: Nov 28/11) York Variety in Longlac are carrying this stuff as well

According to York Variety's (located in Longlac, Ontario) Facebook page they started carrying the complete line of Canadian Classic Fishfry and Fish & Game Spice products on October 7/11. Al certainly has been busy making new friends. All this recent activity could be an indication that Al has found another (to put it politely) financial backer. I wonder what sort of outrageous claims Al made to lure in his latest "partner"?



What, I missed the big Spring Sale???   (Updated: Nov 30/11) Spring 2011 sales featuring Canadian Classic Fishfry on page 3.

This sale flyer from May 26/11 appears to be the type that is widely distributed as a newspaper advertising supplement and for promoting sales at specific sporting goods & outdoor adventure stores. Here's a close-up of page 3 featuring Canadian Classic Fishfry. The entire flyer is available here (it's a large file, please be patient).



Will the real Al Sebastian please stand up, please stand up...   (Updated: Dec 10/11)

I've heard an interesting story from another person who was chasing Al a while ago. This person lives out of town and hired local agents to handle the legal paperwork. When the process server appeared at Al's door to serve him with the usual court documents, Al apparently denied being Al and would not accept delivery of the documents. You'd think lying to an agent of the court would be an offence of some kind.




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