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CONSERVATION AREAS Parks draw tourist traffic to towns



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FESTIVAL SEASON IS ON Crowds bring business boom



ELORA MILL PROJECT On track for 2018 opening






Boosting the local economy




Private Campgrounds



SUMMER SPIRITS Booze business a big draw

2017-06-27 8:14 AM

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Mission Statement Business Leader is a magazine published by The Wellington Advertiser to promote local commerce and private enterprise and to celebrate investment and success in the communities we serve.


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Email: *COVER PHOTO by Olivia Rutt: Joan and Herb Cowen of Pike Lake Campground


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Business people understand business

One of the benefits of a business-to-business publication is the ability to talk about things from a business perspective. The world of the consumer is far different than the plight of business owners, who in many cases fight for success every waking minute of the work day (and night). The necessity of this forum became a little more obvious this spring after a local business made headlines in a Toronto daily newspaper after writing a letter to the premier. Fraberts Fresh Food, a family-owned business offering a store-full of appealing fresh meat, cheeses, vegetables and other groceries, has served Centre Wellington for nine years. News that the province was introducing a new minimum wage concerned the owners enough that the couple decided to write the premier, spelling out what such a cavalier increase means in small-town Ontario. The story in the Toronto Sun on their plight gained traction and in quick pursuit were the trolls that seem to populate social media. Many, without the ability to establish a succinct rational opinion, sounded off with pokes about rich business people living off the backs of workers. “Everyone needs a living wage,” they claimed. Yet another wondered if losing a day at the golf course so workers could be paid was such a big deal. We dare say Grade 3 students could have presented more cogent arguments, but such is the folly of social media and its adapters. Let’s talk for a moment about rich business people and wages. A very good friend of ours ran one of the most successful businesses around, until the day that head office pulled the plug. It was an out-of-the-blue deal, where he had no real say in the matter, but overnight in literal terms he went from rich to poor. It was nothing at one point for him or his family to fly to Europe or travel south. He had the air of rich, but he may well have been one of the most generous around when it came to sponsoring community events or helping someone down on their luck. After all this, and the crash, he said to me one day, “Davey, times change ... Those 79 cent chips at Walmart taste like cardboard compared to the more expensive brands, but after the first couple bags you get used to it.” For a high flyer, that was quite a statement. Unfortunately, many small businesses stare into such an abyss far more regularly than the public would understand. We’ve known numerous people that have had to put payroll or government remittances on a credit card, hoping receipts within the next month would let them get caught up before the next series of bills were due. Business owners often forsake their own cheque in lean times, honouring their commitment to employees instead, knowing that employees have families and bills too. The pressure on owners to deliver is immense. If we were to spend time in The Wellington Advertiser discussing such a topic, it would either sail over the reader’s head or become fodder for trolls who know all about us fat cats that cry the blues about how tough business is. But fellow owners understand only

too well the perils of revenue and expense. Some months or seasons are akin to living on the razor’s edge. So, we felt sympathy for Fraberts trying to articulate what such radical changes could mean for them. The minimum wage increase to $15 is but one point of change. Depending on the method of calculation, many businesses are looking at potential wage increases of 30% - arguably across the board since those currently making that type of money will themselves need an increase. As often happens in these kinds of debates, quintessential examples emerge – like, “if the person making my coffee gets $15 I must be worth $20.” Rather than seeing this as a disparagement of fast-food employees, who work their buns off usually, it should be instead viewed as a wake-up call to owners that businesses are in for a period of inflationary salary growth. Although an election falls before the rate makes its final leap to $15 in January 2019, businesses would be wise to plan now how they will handle these pressures because they are coming. Further to this major challenge are changes in sick day provisions, holiday entitlements and call-in premiums or cancelled shift costs. Although the elites at Queen’s Park view such changes as minimal, for a business with a handful of employees these new rules could cause major interruptions and inconveniences. When explaining this to a government type we used the example of a store owner who out of necessity worked the long weekend herself. After paying extra for the holiday and recognizing the whimsical shopping habits that come with certain holidays, she simply couldn’t expect enough revenue to cover costs. After laying out the details the man I was talking to wondered aloud if he knew the store, thinking he had heard the story before. I said, “No, this store is a good two hours from here.” We hazard to guess it’s a tale known far and wide for small business. The point is, businesses and business people have stories to tell that only fellow owners can relate to. It goes along well with a quote an old employee clipped out for us 20 years ago: “A man isn’t a man until he has to meet a payroll.” It could just as easily be a woman sharing the same experience. Meeting a payroll is no small feat. We should not fool ourselves into thinking the public really cares as deeply about business issues as owners do. Problems are often more easily solved by speaking with others who understand the issues. Certainly advocacy groups like the Chamber of Commerce or Canadian Federation of Independent Business can speak to the issue, but they offer little in the way of constructive solutions. We do hope the doom and gloom that comes with such announcements settles down. These challenges are just more problems for the business community to deal with and we have confidence in the old adage where there is a will there is a way.

...These new rules could cause major interruptions and inconveniences.


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Elora’s Polycorp plans $17-million expansion BY MIKE ROBINSON


You are an example of a great Ontariobased success story.

ELORA - On Nov. 1, Polycorp Ltd. will take over the rest of its building on York Street in Elora. “We bought the land next door and are embarking on a very significant capital expenditure program,” said Polycorp CEO Peter Snucins. He estimates spending for the expansion will total just over $17-million over the next five years. Polycorp will spend more than $14.5 million - with the remaining $2.5 million coming from Ontario’s Jobs and Prosperity Fund - to purchase new equipment, create a testing laboratory and expand its manufacturing facility. Officials say the project, expected to be completed in 2022, will help boost productivity and competitiveness, increase exports and revenues, and create 26 new jobs and retain 146 positions. Guelph MPP Liz Sandals made the funding announcement at Polycorp in March on behalf of Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth. Sandals noted that since Snucins first opened the doors in Elora in the 1990s, “you’ve built an organization recognized throughout the industry as delivering high quality products with customers in more than 30 countries.” Sandals later added, “It’s easy to see why Polycorp has been named one of Canada’s best managed companies six years in a row. Clearly you are doing a lot of things right ... “You are an example of a great Ontariobased success story. I’m thrilled to see a local company competing and winning in the global marketplace.” Snucins explained that 20 years ago the company moved to Elora from Kitchener. “We came to an empty building,” he said. “The parking lot was empty and we had no infrastructure; no power, no steam, no cranes. Fast forward 22 years.


“We’re full, can’t park in the parking lot ... we have to expand.” Snucins added the provincial funding will help Polycorp “sharpen our competitive edge, expand our intellectual property, add capacity and hire more great people from the Elora

area.” Centre Wellington Mayor Kelly Linton added “this is really exciting news for Centre Wellington and residents of Elora.” He said the municipality is working hard as a local government to take real action to attract jobs and investment in Centre Wellington. “But we can’t do it alone,” he said, calling the provincial funding an awesome way to give Polycorp “a chance to strengthen its position.” Snucins noted the expansion means operations will expand not only into the remainder of the existing building, but additional land purchased will provide the space for even more growth. The addition doubles the size of the existing building, bringing operations to 110,000 square feet in total. Polycorp designs and manufactures engineered rubber products that mitigate risks associated with corrosion, abrasion, impact, noise and vibration in the transportation, mining and protective linings industries.

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Private campgrounds offer big economic boost to community DON, NOLAN AND JESSE VALLERY, HIGHLAND PINES CAMPGROUND


The Highlands Pines Campground, located on Wellington Road 19 near Belwood, is celebrating 50 years of business in 2017. What started out as a Christmas tree farm was transformed into a large campground that accommodates 2,500 to 3,000 on any given weekend during the summer months. Hugh Vallery and son Don made the decision to cut campsites into the rows of trees in 1967, opening up their acreage that backs onto the shores of Belwood Lake. In 1987, Don bought the acreage across the road, expanding the campground to phase two. Nearly 25 years later, the business, which now includes Don’s two sons Nolan and Jesse, expanded further into phase three, Valley Springs. The site now encompasses 270 acres of land, both recreational and wilderness areas. “The business was growing; we saw an opportunity to have more families enjoying their summer here and figured it would be a

For the larger community, our biggest impact would be the people who come here and venture into town ... NOLAN VALLERY, HIGHLAND PINES CAMPGROUND

business has to the region and they’ve worked really well with us in the past,” he said. Some of those who come to the campground for a weekend away end up investing in the local communities by buying property, said Nolan. Those that do not go the permanent route still experience Centre Wellington. “For the larger community, our biggest impact would be the people who come here and venture into town,” said Nolan. “It’s nice to see those people out, going out for dinner, having a little entertainment here or there, or even just going into the shops and spending a little money. It’s nice to see them



good business opportunity as well,” said Nolan Vallery, general manager of the park. There are 734 sites with 614 seasonal and 120 overnight spots, and most weekends book fast. Nolan said having the overnight sites are important to the business’ growth, as it allows people to visit and try out the campground before committing to a seasonal site. During the five months the campground is open, visitors can take part in numerous activities held at “the arc” or “the hut” recreation buildings. There are also three pools, two splash pads, various playgrounds including an 80-foot pirate ship, a beach and a 100-slip marina. In order to run such a large campground, there needs to be staff. Nolan said there are 12 full-time staff members that work at both Highland Pines and at Pine Meadows, a retirement community down the road. That number increases to 50 during the busy summer months. Nolan said he sees the value of hiring local for internal jobs as well as contract work. Centre Wellington Township also sees the impact the campground has on the surrounding area, said Nolan. “They really understand our contribution to the area and what not; the jobs that we provide and the people who come here and then go out to the shops in town and they go eat out, so they really recognize the impact the

WELLINGTON COUNTY - During the weekends, people flock north to their cottage, trailer or campground to get away from the hustle of the daily grind. This great migration is not only beneficial to campgrounds such as Highland Pines Campground near Belwood and Pike Lake Golf Centre and Campground near Mount Forest, but is seen as positive economic impact to the surrounding businesses.


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The sprawling 600-acre Pike Lake Golf Centre and Campground also generates a huge boost to the local economy during their summer months. When Irv and Joan Cowen purchased the property on Highway 89 between Harriston and Mount Forest in 1961, it already had a motel and a nine-hole golf course. Irv passed away in 2010 and Joan is still owner of the business. Their eldest son Herb, now part owner of the property with his siblings Jeanne and Tom, explained it was hard at first for his parents to make ends meet. It wasn’t until 10 years later, when John Thompson approached the couple to run a hockey camp from the lake, that the idea of a trailer business and campground opened up new possibilities. Now the property, which surrounds Pike Lake, the largest of six kettle lakes in the area, accommodates about 3,000 people per weekend through a motel, cabins and seasonal trailers along with overnight camping. There are 400 seasonal and overnight sites and 140 year-round sites. The golf course also expanded twice, adding an additional nine holes in 1986 and again in 2001. Pike Lake’s economic impact starts with its

employees. Herb said about 140 employees, both full time and part time, help keep the campground and golf course running. Many of the employees who started out as students (including those at Norwell District

My husband always believed in that, we support as much as we can local.

contributing that way.” It’s actions like these that has Don estimating the economic investment to the surrounding area as approximately $5,000 to $7,000 per camp site.


and Wellington Heights secondary schools in Palmerston and Mount Forest respectively) working during the summer have gone on to find success in other roles. “I call it the Pike Lake system,” Joan said. While Pike Lake can seem self-sufficient, Herb says it relies heavily on local businesses. Whether it’s for building supplies, groceries or a night out, the people who call Pike Lake

home during the summer are contributing to the Harriston and Mount Forest economies. While there is no quantifiable data, Herb said, based on what he hears from surrounding businesses, upwards of $1 million is generated for the local economy each summer. He added because Pike Lake is just a little farther from the city, people will wait to shop until they arrive in town, whether it’s Mount Forest or Harriston. “The whole main street benefits, whether it’s gas, the Tim Hortons, it’s everything,” said Herb. “My husband always believed in that - we support as much as we can local,” added Joan. Herb noted there have been many generations of families that have come through Pike Lake, calling the area home. He added there are people who have decided to bring their families to settle down in these northern Wellington County towns. “The people that come here, for a small community of north Wellington County, there’s a lot of dollars generated in to Mount Forest and Harriston and Arthur,” said Herb. Considering how many people and dollars Highland Pines and Pike Lake draw each summer, they have become an essential part of the local economy. BL

ABOVE PHOTOS: Pike Lake Campground. BELOW: Highland Pines Campground.


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Blackmere: Elora Mill North project continues on track for mid-2018 opening ELORA - Pearle Hospitality’s renovations to the Elora Mill north side properties and its plans south of the Grand River are going to change the way people see and experience “Ontario’s most beautiful village.” From the confines of a cosy office with a veranda overlooking the Grand River, Elora Mill planner/project manager Brian Blackmere says, “We’re very excited about this. It’s been a long journey, but it’s unfolding; it’s going to reflect well on everybody.” He said a grand opening/groundbreaking for the project was held in November 2016. Work in early January focussed on cleaning up the interior of the buildings, Blackmere said. There was also some demolition undertaken to other buildings within the project area, he added. This included the interior of the cottage unit and demolition to the interior of the Granery building, which went relatively smoothly. For the mill building property, the priority came in the form of infrastructure upgrades. Blackmere explained, “We had to bring

in natural gas and new water lines, relocate storm sewers, upgrade sanitary. Plus we had to get rid of the overhead lines which littered the landscape at the end of the street.” Blackmere said most of that was accomplished during the municipal reconstruction of Price Street. “It was up to us to bring the services into the site and distribute them to the various buildings,” he says. Blackmere explained that required ripping up the entire parking lot to extend to the spa at west end of the property. The James Ross House - the red brick house at the intersection of Mill and Price Streets - is now functioning as a utility termination and distribution point to the north side buildings. In addition, the natural gas line will also come in from the street to a generator. “In the event of a power failure in Centre Wellington, we will be able to use natural gas to power a generator to power the site,” Blackmere explained. From a servicing viewpoint everything needs to be upgraded. “We will end up with

a much more efficient, green operation,” he said, adding much of the base servicing has been completed. “The next step, already underway, is apparent because of the scaffolding on the building,” he said. Blackmere explained all the stonework on the mill building is being repointed.

“It’s been a long journey, but it’s unfolding; it’s going to reflect well on everybody.” BRIAN BLACKMERE, PEARLE HOSPITALITY

“It’s a lot of man-hours for masons,” Blackmere quipped. “Any renovation has its horror stories.” In this case, part of it stems from the long history of building. “In 1903, part of the mill wall collapsed


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“In 1903, part of the mill wall collapsed into the river ... and our masons discovered when they rebuilt the wall, they did a magnificent job on the first two stories ... then went on the cheap and used cinder block upwards ...” BRIAN BLACKMERE

Blackmere said the north side mill project will continue to be the focus until its completion. He said there is some restoration work that Pearle would like to get done on the former Little Folks administration building. WHAT WILL BE OFFERED



into the river ... and our masons discovered when they rebuilt the wall, they did a magnificent job on the first two stories ... then went on the cheap and used cinder block upwards,” he said. “That’s why you see in historic photos, barn board covering those sections. “That cinder block is crumbling and we had to struggle with getting a new bearing template in place and replacing all of the material with proper limestone. It’s all going to be rebuilt to the way it was originally, before the fall into the river.” Pearle has a repository of stone on the south side of the river to rebuild the wall. “That all came from All Saints Anglican Church in Hamilton (when it was demolished),” Blackmere said. “It is pretty much the same stone as what was used here and there is more than enough to complete the job ... and more.” Blackmere does not believe the extra masonry work will create a huge time delay. “We’re on schedule and expect to be open this time next year,” he said. “We better be, because we have at least a dozen weddings already booked.”

Blackmere said the north side Mill proper will have 30 hotel rooms (31 with the James Ross House conversion to a premiere suite). He added that in many ways, that building is not going to be dissimilar in function to what was offered in the past. But there will be changes to both the rooms and how services are provided. Blackmere stated every hotel room will have a wood-burning fireplace and the square footage of the rooms will also be increased. The three-storey atrium at the back of the building will serve as the refurbished Penstock Lounge and the expanded dining area, which will be serviced by a kitchen on the same level. The third storey of the atrium will accommodate hotel suites providing vistas over the Elora Gorge, he said. “One storey up, suites will not have the atrium, but will have access to rooftop terraces. The terrace suites will have outdoor woodburning fireplaces.” Blackmere said the kitchen will be expanded and serve multiple uses. The spa building over the former mill stable will offer 7,500 square feet for “mani-pedi” treatments, fitness and relaxation. “The second storey of the spa walks out to a pool overlooking the gorge,” he said. The granary building at the corner of Price and Mill Streets is becoming a banquet space. “Both the upper and lower stories will be banquetting rooms,” Blackmere said. The upper floor will have a capacity of roughly 150 people, while the lower floor would have 75. In addition, there would be a full commercial kitchen in the facility.

He added there will also be a small outdoor eating space and restaurant available from the street. Across the road from the granary are the two cottage units which will also offer hotel room space. Blackmere explained the existing building is being refurbished and the other will be a new build. He estimated the conversion of the former stable to a spa is probably the biggest change to the property. The next is the work on the granary building - expanding the footprint of the building to encompass most of the building lot, rather than the small area the previous building occupied. PUBLIC REACTION

“People are just exuberant about the site. It is not so much the built form, but the setting being in Elora, being on the gorge and having those vistas,” Blackmere said. He commented on the one megawatt hydroelectric plant built on the south side of the Grand River. “We bought out our partners and now own it completely,” he said. This allows Pearle to control the aesthetics of the water flow over the Drimmie Dam, Blackmere explained. He said previously there was concern that the need for hydro generation might jeopardize the sheen of water coming over the dam. Blackmere said Pearle had examined the option of using the hydro from the dam to power the mill in an emergency. However, the province would not allow it. Blackmere said the power must be sold directly into the hydro grid. SOUTH SIDE DEVELOPMENT

Blackmere said there are still planning applications to go through for development on Pearle’s property on the south side of the river.


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“It’s not going to be easy,” he said. “When we bought the Ross Street properties, they were outHe noted the rebuild of the Victoria Street bridge remains side of our original secondary plan application. We need to bring extremely important to the project. those inside, which will require official plan and zoning amendBecause Badley bridge is scheduled for ments,” he explained. replacement, Blackmere said it is vital for the Other documents include a heritage Victoria Street bridge to be in place because impact assessment, as required by the townparking will be on the south side of the river. ship. That work is already underway. “It is all for naught if there is no bridge for “We are hoping to have something in pedestrians to walk across,” he said. process ... at least for a public meeting by Blackmere considers the rebuild “part of September. It’s all for the cornerstone of the tourism strategy mov“The priority for us is getting the north naught if there ing forward.” side stabilized and operational. He spoke of RTO4 (Regional Tourism “What we are doing on the south end is is no bridge for Organization Four) initiatives and Pearle’s getting us set up for work in 2018 and beyond. pedestrians to work with the organization for the past few “What you find, is that once this is done, years, along with other businesses in the comthings will move much smoother on the south walk across. munity, to come up with a comprehensive side because people will have a better undermarketing strategy for Elora and Fergus. standing of the work.” BRIAN BLACKMERE, “We’re on the cusp of implementing that Blackmere admits there will be challenges PEARL HOSPITALITY now, so getting this facility up and running is with the former Little Folks administrative extremely important to bringing that whole building and the Walser building, which are program to fruition,” Blackmere said. “We are being restored. committed, and the other businesses involved “The Walser building is going to be a are extremely committed as well. tough one. It has been exposed to the elements “I think this is shaping up as a real winfor some time.” win for everyone involved. We will benefit as a company but there In addition, there is subsurface geotechnical work to be done are spinoffs ... which is what we really want to see. This is not just within the building envelope to determine what bearing capaciabout Pearle.” BL ties exist.



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Dinner and a show drives tourists to Drayton DRAYTON Drayton Entertainment is offering a unique way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary - take in a purely Canadian show at the Drayton Festival Theatre. The Canadian comedy Harvest centres on the ultimate “cash crop.” Written by Ken Cameron, Harvest

To help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Gorge Country Kitchen, the Xintavelonis family is donating $50,000 to the new groves hospital project. The cheque was to be presented to hospital CEO Stephen Street and Groves Memorial Community Hospital board chair Ian Hornsby on June 24. THE RIGHT SPOT

The Right Spot Restaurant has opened in the former Marj’s Village Kitchen location in Alma. The new owners also own the Gorge County Kitchen in Elora. The Right Spot also hired back some former employees from Marj’s Village Kitchen, which closed in January of 2015. The Right Spot Restaurant is open seven days a week (7am to 3pm Monday to Thursday; 7am to 8pm on Friday and Saturday; and 8am to 7pm on Sunday).

We are working together to give you the perfect reason to visit us in Drayton



is based on the real-life experience of his parents who decided to retire from farm life. Now set up in a condo in the city, they rent their farmhouse to a young

pilot who wants to raise an entirely “different” type of crop. Officials say audiences will enjoy this comedic look at farmers and rural Canada. Two actors play all the characters, from nosy neighbours and gossipy church ladies to a ferocious guard dog and more. Harvest is on stage from July 12 to 30. Officials advise theatregoers to leave their lunch bag at home and take advantage of the special dining and theatre deal that allows for a package price on Harvest and gift certificates to the Drayton Chop House, a chef-driven upscale casual restaurant focused on showcasing local products grown and raised in the area. “We are working together to give you the perfect reason to visit us in Drayton: great food and great entertainment all for one affordable package price,” officials state. Contact the Drayton Festival Theatre box office for more information about the dining and theatre package at 519-638-5555.


Costco members will be in for a heftier price tag this year when they renew their memberships. Whether renewing with an executive membership, business membership or gold star, patrons will say goodbye to the respective $110 or $55 annual fees. Instead, executive memberships now cost $120 a year while the business and gold star memberships cost $60. While many of the benefits remain the same, there are a couple if noteworthy changes. The former executive membership offered a 2% reward up to a maximum of $750 per year on most purchases; however the new membership will allow for the same 2% reward but now it will be for a maximum of $1,000 per year on purchases, a 25% increase. A less beneficial change occurred to the business membership. In the past it cost $55 for each additional member up to six total. That has been increased to $60.


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Local mortgage professional named among Canada’s leading brokers TORONTO – A Fergus mortgage broker has just been recognized in a list naming the top mortgage brokers in the country. Tracy Luciani Price of Price Team Mortgages (DLC Forest City Funding) ranked 55th in Canadian Mortgage Professional magazine’s Top 75 Brokers list, featuring the nation’s leading mortgage brokers. Canadian Mortgage Professional (CMP) Top 75 Brokers report is a definitive ranking of Canada’s best brokers and on its 11th year, CMP recognizes yet another set of brokers who have proven themselves to be tireless workers with their impressive deal breakdowns; innovative leaders and the best in the business when it comes to navigating the mortgage landscape. “This year’s list includes a diverse set of professionals both from large and small markets,” said Kimberly Banks, CMP journalist. “Whether they operate independently or work within networks, these brokers have a wide range of experience and have proven themselves to be the best of the best in the industry.” To learn more about this year’s top brokers view the list online at

GUELPH – Two county businesses were among the recipients of the Guelph-Wellington Local Immigration Partnership’s (GWLIP) first-ever Global Advantage Business Awards. The awards - celebrating businesses and individuals that demonstrate leadership in immigrant employment and entrepreneurship in Guelph and Wellington— were handed out in March at a breakfast event at the Italian Canadian Club. Cargill (Guelph) and TG Minto Corporation (Wellington County) received the Immigrant Inclusion in the Workplace Award. This award honours businesses that hire immigrants and recognize diversity and international skills and experience as a benefit to their business, and have implemented practices to support cultural and religious diversity in the workplace. TG Minto is a supplier of plastic automotive components which established a factory in

Palmerston in 2000. A company profile on the GWLIP website notes TG Minto “realizes that newcomers often face a language barrier regarding their development in the workplace. “As a result, the company has created an on-boarding process for staff who may need assistance in these areas. “Their human resources department provides translators during training to ensure that workers can fully understand workplace production and safety requirements. Translators are also provided for more in depth one-on-one interactions.” The Immigrant Entrepreneur Success Award, which recognizes immigrants who have arrived in Canada since 2000 and are driving local innovation and economic growth by launching successful businesses, was awarded to Laza Food and Beverage Inc. (Guelph) and Pine Tree Pet Care Centre (Wellington County). Pinetree Pet Care Centre,

located near Ennotville on Highway 6, offers a variety of services including grooming, boarding, an off-leash area and a pet cemetery. The grounds are also available to be rented to organizations for various types of events. Owner Veronica Negrin has shared her business experiences as an immigrant through these various organizations as a volunteer to help prepare other prospective immigrant business owners for the requirements of being an entrepreneur. In all, there were 14 nominees in the two award categories. This year’s awards were sponsored by the County of Wellington, the City of Guelph’s Invest in Guelph initiative and WellingtonWaterloo Community Futures Development Corporation. The GWLIP is funded by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada and hosted by the City of Guelph.

Innovation Guelph announces 2017 Rhyze Award finalists; Erin business among winners GUELPH – Innovation Guelph (IG) announced May 3 the 10 local women-owned businesses who are recipients of the 2017 Rhyze Award. The following businesses will receive $1,000 in seed funding to support the growth of their businesses. Additionally, all businesses receive a reserved spot in the Rhyze Academy, Innovation Guelph’s program designed to support women entrepreneurs as they develop business, financial and work-life integration skills. Erin’s Deborah Keeble with her business Edible Promotions is among the winners. Other recipients include: - Athena Prodoegies, a book, workshops and events designed to empower women and girls; - Estate Transition Planner Canada, offering estate planning

support and resources; - EZ Health Coach, providing diabetes education, foot care, and home care service; - Fallowfield, an independent children’s shop offering ethically made organic clothing; Fourchette Culinary Academy, teaching interactive cooking lessons; - Milk and Thistle Paper Co., greeting cards with original illustrations; - Research for Change, a consultancy strengthening the community benefit and social service sectors; - ResilienSeed Consulting, offering resources and services related to mental health; and - Root and Bone Herbals, handcrafted herbal culinary and body care products. Finalists were selected from

60 applicants across Guelph and Wellington County vying for cash awards and business mentoring. Funding for the cash awards was raised through the Rhyze Project’s successful 2015 crowdfunding campaign and ongoing sponsorship from Meridian Credit Union. “The Rhyze Project is now in its third year, and we are truly thrilled by the growth of this vibrant entrepreneurial program,” said Kristel Manes, director of operations for Innovation Guelph and the Rhyze Project. “Each year, the Rhyze Award has attracted an increasingly diverse range of women entrepreneurs and business types, proving this program is a vital and accessible touchpoint for women seeking resources and financial


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support for their businesses. “With the Rhyze Academy now established, and our youthfocused Rhyze on the Road program in development, we continue to cultivate a connected and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem for women in our region.” Among other eligibility criteria, applicants were required to identify as female; be 30 years of age or older; have a new or existing enterprise based in Guelph and/or Wellington County; and

demonstrate passion and viability of their business idea. Applications were subject to an intensive review process by an impartial volunteer panel from Guelph’s business and academic communities. All Rhyze Award recipients were to be formally recognized at a ceremony on June 29 at the Frank Hasenfratz Centre for Excellence (700 Woodlawn Rd. W., Guelph).


Fergus woman only Canadian chosen for Virtuoso’s Saveur Advisory Board WINNIPEG - Diane Cook of Fergus, a Travel Professionals International (TPI) advisor, is the only Canadian travel advisor named to the advisory board of Saveur Magazine earlier this year. New York City-based Saveur is allied with Virtuoso, a leading global network for luxury and experiential travel and the partnership brings together a select group of advisors - Virtuoso’s Saveur Advisory Board - who work with Saveur Magazine staff to create customized travel itineraries with a focus on food and fine dining. Saveur Magazine specializes in cooking, eating, and global discovery. As stated on “The definitive go-to guide for passionate cooks, stylish entertainers, and culinary explorers, Saveur celebrates a world of great

eating with delicious recipes, inspired travel tales, and actionable advise for the ultimate epicurean lifestyle.” Cook underwent a rigorous screening process to earn her role on the Saveur Advisory Board and her selection was based heavily on her specialization in food and wine-related travel. “We are thrilled that Diane has been included in the Saveur Advisory Board,” said Morris Chia, TPI president and CEO. “Her expertise in culinary travel is top-notch and her involvement in Saveur will be an excellent way for her to continue to expand her talents.” For more information about Cook’s travel experience, client testimonials and hosted events email or call 226979-5751.

International Plowing Match generated profit of $353,000


BY PATRICK RAFTIS MINTO - Area groups and organizations will split about $170,000, the local share of profit from the 2016 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo held near Harriston last fall. Deputy mayor Ron Faulkner, who chaired the IPM 2016 committee, told Minto council earlier this year that audited reports indicate the match, held Sept. 20 to 24, generated a profit of approximately $353,000,

which will be split between local organizers and the Ontario Plowmens’ Association. “We will be handing out to our volunteer groups and to special organizations, $170,000,” said Faulkner. Asked how the profit compares to previous plowing matches, Faulker said, “In 2000 they had only $55,000. So apparently, we’ve done very well.”

Fergus dental clinic receives national business award BY JAIME MYSLIK FERGUS – A Fergus dental clinic has been recognized on the national level. Castlemore Dental, at 93 Parkside Dr., was one of 18 nation-wide recipients of the Canadian Business Excellence Award for Private Businesses. “We had a nomination through a patient so that was a very nice surprise,” said Dr. Raj Khanuja, adding the application was quite lengthy. He said he didn’t believe it when Excellence Canada called to say the dental clinic had actually won the award. “To get nominated it is a very nice thing to hear - that somebody thought of us to that level - but to actually win something, that’s like landing on the moon.” He explained the award looks at different aspects of small businesses including, patient satisfaction, relationships with staff and utilized technology. “We keep evolving as the technology changes and in dentistry it’s changing at a very fast rate,” Khanuja said. The practice now uses 3D CT scans and printers to more accurately design and place dental implants. Staff satisfaction is also a focus of Castlemore Dental. Three times a year the office shuts down and the staff is treated to

an adventure. They have gone to Orillia for a scenic tour in a water airplane and to Niagara Falls for a helicopter ride. “We really appreciate them because without these staff we can only go so far and appreciating once a year I think is just not enough,” Khanuja said. “It does take time effort and money to do that, but we don’t see turnaround in this staff and they are self-motivated, self-perpetuating. “You can’t make them do it, they have to want to do it and that comes from within.” Receiving the award was a very humbling experience for Khanuja. “I look at it as a reinforcement and motivation to continue to provide excellence and quality of care and exceed it,” he said. “It is a nice thing that we got recognized, but it is a motivation booster for me and my staff to continue and be excellent in every possible way we can.” The clinic held a celebration with Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong on hand on March 24. Castlemore Dental also received the Business Excellence Award for Business of the Year at the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce Awards of Excellence ceremony in May.


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I am unable to comment because this is not information we obtain from our businesses. HOW DO YOUR MEMBERS PLAN TO CELEBRATE CANADA DAY?

The Minto Chamber is thrilled to ring in Canada’s 150th year with endless sales promotions and exciting weekend events. WHAT IS THE BUSINESS OUTLOOK FOR THE SUMMER?

The Minto Chamber is excited for spring/summer 2017. The warmer weather attracts lots of tourist traffic and brings people out into the community. The Minto business outlook for this summer is to continue to keep our local businesses vibrant and thriving. As well, we have countless community events planned, such as our Harriston Street Party and Savor in the Street happening on Aug. 12, the Clifford Homecoming taking place in Aug. 4 to 7 and several Canada Day celebrations throughout the community. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES/ ADVANTAGES FOR MERCHANTS DURING NICER WEATHER?

The Minto Chamber is always looking forward to the summer; however the warmer weather can cause locals to venture out of town. But, when the local’s choose to get away, new visitors come to stay. Our local campgrounds are always pleased to see new faces every weekend.

Email: Website:



Spring is always busy around town. People start to come out and enjoy the nice weather, they start to plan their summer events, landscaping and home projects. The traffic picks up on Main Street and there always seems to be someone heading into a business. There seems to be a rise in events like the Awards Gala, Fire Chief’s Gala and more. All of our members see these as great opportunities to jump on board and spring into summer. HOW DO YOUR MEMBERS PLAN TO CELEBRATE CANADA DAY?

Just before Canada Day was the Mount Forest Homecoming so our businesses, homes and parks are cleaned up and ready for action. We eagerly waited for the hundreds of people wanting to return to their home town for the great activities. There were fantastic deals, great coupons and events all weekend long. Then we get to rest but will be back at it again with the 17th annual Mount Forest Fireworks Festival that brings thousands to our streets. We will kick off the weekend with a special Sesquentenial Fireworks Display Friday night. Be sure to get your weekend pass! WHAT IS THE BUSINESS OUTLOOK FOR THE SUMMER?

The business outlook for summer is busy! They are loving it. With only a few construction projects in the area it really opens up our streets and allows for visitors from outside town to get around more freely but also encourages our residents to stay and shop local. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES/ ADVANTAGES FOR MERCHANTS DURING NICER WEATHER?



From what I’ve heard, pretty good overall. There is concern about the road/ bridge improvements planned for both communities. We encourage all local residents to make an effort to shop local and support local this summer and all year through. HOW DO YOUR MEMBERS PLAN TO CELEBRATE CANADA DAY?

150 is a big celebration and you’ll see the patriotism all over town. WHAT IS THE BUSINESS OUTLOOK FOR THE SUMMER?

Businesses tend to be optimistic especially during their peak season. There is always so much to do in Centre Wellington and Wellington County. A recent topic of conversation is the impact that the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report will have on business, especially small businesses. From increasing minimum wage to $15, increasing paid vacation and personal days, to making unionizing easier – all of these items impact business and the local economy. Become informed about these proposals and let Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Finance Kevin Flynn and your MP (as well as your chamber of commerce) know how you feel about these proposed changes. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES/ ADVANTAGES FOR MERCHANTS DURING NICER WEATHER?

Challenges come and go, it’s not necessarily the seasons that bring them. Businesses have to give customers a reason to come through the door. We are a strong business community that has many amenities to offer the consumer we just have to make sure that the consumer knows about them. We are lucky to have the many campgrounds in the area that bring vibrant new faces to our community each summer, and we can’t wait to greet them!

Weather is always a challenge, whether too hot or too cold or too wet or too humid! We are Canadian after all! If the weather is nicer merchants want to provide a spot for customers to cool down, rehydrate, etc. The challenge with staying cool is the cost of electricity to run air conditioners during peak hours. The advantage of nicer weather is it tends to bring out locals and visitors which in turn increase sales.

Email: Website:

Email: Website:




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Chamber head gives presentation on organization BY CAROLINE SEALEY

Business After Hours takes on many different forms with the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce. On April 19 a number of members visited Fergus Monuments to learn a little about how head stones are made. They have been in business for 25 years with a shop in Mount Forest where most of the work is done. The business began in Mount Forest but eventually moved to an office on St. Andrew Street in Fergus. The business also engraves rocks as well as address blocks and it restores old monuments.

The Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce held its annual Local Biz Night at the Grand River Raceway on June 5 with more than 60 people from 16 local businesses in attendance. Businesses were assigned a horse to cheer for during the 7th race of the evening. The winning horse of the 7th race was Arrived Late who was cheered on by the Motion Electrical Contracting Ltd. group. The Fergus company received a trophy to display in their workplace plus a staff party for 20 at Grand River Raceway. Driver Bob McClure piloted Arrived Late to a one-and-a-half length victory in 1:57.1. Craig Gilmour trains Arrived Late for owners Brett Wright of Hamilton and Connor Wright of Dundas.

Each year the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce holds an annual golf tournament and this year it was held on June 14. Twenty teams were involved this year but nobody was able to collect a hole-in-one for $10,000 or another one for $5,000. After a scrumptious meal put on by the Ariss Valley Golf Club awards were given out and the low gross winners were Freedom 55 Financial, from left: Matt Fallis, Kevin Brubacher, Dan Witzke, Steve Slaughter and Garth Green from Brokerlink.

DRAYTON - Interested business owners met at the Drayton Theatre in May to begin the process of reactivating a Chamber of Commerce in Mapleton Township, which has been without an active local chamber since 2005. Guest speaker Greg Durocher, president and CEO of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the chamber and the travelling he has done around the globe with the organization. “I am a part-time resident and full-time taxpayer in Mapleton Township,” Durocher said. “I have a cottage at the lake but live and work in Cambridge.” Durocher’s credentials include a stint as a businessman and a 10-year term on Cambridge municipal council. After losing the mayoral position by 26 votes, Durocher decided a change was in order. Eight months later he joined the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. Under Durocher’s charge the chamber has grown to become the largest in Ontario with 1,900 members. “The first chamber of commerce began in 1599 in Marseille, France. Champlain, the explorer who discovered Canada, was funded by the Paris chamber of commerce. The Golden Gate Bridge was built by the chamber of commerce to encourage economic ties between both sides of the Golden Gate Strait. Even the Boston Tea Party had chamber involvement,” Durocher stated. Today there are 2,500 chambers of commerce worldwide, whose goals are to build better, stronger, healthier communities. “Often communities let government build their community, but the chamber of commerce need to be proactive by planning and acting on issues,” Durocher said. He meets with the mayor and CAO of Cambridge on a weekly basis, representing Cambridge businesses. “Ninety per cent of municipal councils are comprised of baby boomers and retirees, who do not readily accept change. These mature individuals need to keep an open mind, bring sanity to the situation and build the community for the future,” Durocher said.

He emphasized that the chamber of commerce membership comes together with a shared interest in the economy and the future of the community. Networking, knowing, liking and trusting each other is important. As is finding solutions for each other’s problems. Immediate benefits will follow after an individual business is recommended to another business within the organization. The community will grow economically as long as there are business transactions taking place. “Move forward, keep membership fees low and get as many businesses involved as you possibly can. As this is a rural municipality, agriculture is big business. All businesses need to be represented. Not only will the chamber of commerce businesses benefit, but the township as a whole will,” Durocher added. “You are the forefathers of a new entity that you can bring to light. With a cooperative attitude you will be able to attain benefits including group insurance and discounts not currently available to your business,” Durocher said. A new book, the first full length history of the chambers of commerce in the United States titled The Magicians of Main Street written by Chris Mead, describes how the chambers changed the nation’s finance and currency, public health, public works, local government and cultural life. Teams of businessmen and women built up their communities and shaped the country into what it is today. This book is highly recommended by Durocher for any business owner. Interested individuals will be meeting over the summer with Durocher to discuss the planned launch of the Mapleton Chamber of Commerce in September. Items on the agenda will include bylaws, board members, budgets, membership fees and services. Chamber officials from the cities of Cambridge and KitchenerWaterloo will be assisting with the reestablishment of the Mapleton Chamber of Commerce. For more information on the Mapleton Chamber of Commerce contact the Mapleton Township office at 519-638-3313.


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Diana Critchley

Freda Leenders named Erin’s Citizen of the Year at volunteer appreciation awards night BY MIKE ROBINSON

Don Covert

Shirley Emmerson

Steve Busby

ERIN - The Celebrate Erin volunteer appreciation night this spring celebrated local “works of heart.” The event recognized the volunteerism demonstrated by Shamrock Award recipients Diana Critchley, Don Covert, Mélodie Rose, Shirley Emerson, Steve Busby, Susan Powell and Erin’s Citizen of the Year recipient Freeda Leenders. Rev. Deacon Irene Walback offered the following words to those gathered. “We make a living by what we get ... we make a life by what we give.” She said there are many people in the community who give, and give continuously. Walback asked the volunteers to recognize what they give helps their neighbours - known and unknown. Erin Mayor Allan Alls stated “the Town of Erin is very rich in volunteerism.” He noted Celebrate Erin recieved 16 nominations “and we sincerely wish every one of those nominated could have been awarded.” He quipped “it’s funny how often people getting these awards don’t think they are deserving ... but believe you me, sitting on the (awards) committee it is difficult to choose just a few. We could have handed out 20 awards.” CITIZEN OF THE YEAR

Melodie Rose

Susan Powell

East Wellington Community Services manager of community and volunteer engagement Barb Carscadden described Leenders as “a woman who has devoted her life to helping others and who has given so much to her community and those whose lives she touches every day. “Freda has volunteered with East Wellington Community Services for decades ... tireless filling the role as a volunteer driver since the program began operations almost 32 years ago.” Carscadden said, “Freda makes hereself readily available when needed ... often at the expense of her own committments. “From her reassuring smile, warm demeanor and upbeat attitude, clients experience a sense of safety and security while making their way to appointments.” Carscadden added that Leenders gives her time to many other organizations as well. “When she’s not driving for EWCA, she

can be found behind the wheel driving for the Canadian Cancer Society for the past 32 years, taking local patients to places such as Toronto, Hamilton and Kitchener.” Leenders is actively involved in the Erin Gardening Club helping to beautify local green spaces, tending to flowers, gardens and planting trees.


She is also a member of the local Women’s Institute. “Freda is a role model to so many. Within our town, she is known as someone who will help others so their lives are made more enjoyable,” Carscadden said. “What is remarkable is not just the amount of volunteering she does, but the manner in which she carries out these duties, with her smile and humble, positive, can-do approach. No project ever seems to be too big a task for Freda to take on.” Carscadden added, “Freda is a woman who has spent a lifetime volunteering. You are an inspiration to us all.” Leenders said she’d known she was up for an award “but I didn’t expect this ... not the citizen of the year.” “It’s overwhelming.” She thanked both Carscadden and the staff of East Wellington Community Services. “Volunteering is a ‘work of heart’ and it seems to come naturally.”


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Mount Forest Chamber of Commerce Excellence Award Gala

Donna Leach





Youth Citizen of the Year, Riley Wake (centre) with Lucas Rodriguez and Gabby Ieropoli of the Wellington North Youth Action Council.




Citizen of the Year, Donna Leach pictured with award sponsor Chris Holden of the Mount Forest Mirror.

OF THE YEAR Mount Forest Lions Club present John Rowbottom accepted, on behalf of MOUNT FOREST the club, the Organization LIONS CLUB of the Year Award at the Mount Forest Chamber of Commerce Awards gala in April. The club has been active in Mount Forest since 1939 and currently has 54 members. Since 2000 the club has contributed 1,000 volunteer hours and donated $850,000 to the local hospital foundation, fire services and individuals in need. Also in the photo is Ruth MacDonald of the M&M Food Market, who was given a special achievement award for her community involvement.

Riley Wake

Shelly Hansen


Shelly Hansen of Shelly’s Just for You Spa, right, was presented with the Arny Feairs Customer Service Award by Lee Rogister of the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation.



Wellington North Mayor Andy Lennox, right, presented the Corporate Citizen of the Year Award to Brian and Karen Osterndorff of Robert’s Farm Equipment at the Mount Forest District Chamber of Commerce’s Excellence Awards Gala in April.



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Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce Awards of Excellence The Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce held its annual Awards of Excellence gala in May at the Fergus Grand Theatre.

Bruce McLeish Centre Wellington councillor Mary Lloyd handed Bruce McLeish his Centre Wellington 2017 Citizen of the Year award.

Ron Mackinnon of the Community Resource Centre accepted the Not for Profit Award from Bryan Paul of EFG Inc.


Agriculture Award sponsor Paul Walker, left, of Grand River Agricultural Society presented the the Agricultural/ Agri Business Award to Harry Linde of Grand River Robotics.

Monika Daultrey

Youth Citizen of the year Monika Daultrey, centre, received her award from Marg Shortt, second from left, and Mayor Kelly Linton, second from right. Also on hand from RBC Royal Bank were Mark Zahra, left, and Katie Cheesmond.



Councillor Fred Morris, left, presented Corporate Citizen of the Year to Larry Peters of Cogeco.



The team from Broderick’s Apparel for Men received recognition for 40 years in business from sponsor Dave Bamford


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The Town of Minto Chamber of Commerce held its annual achievement awards. Recipients included, from left: front, Ron Leslie, Gerry Leslie, Laverne Stinson, Jack Walsh, Felix Weber and Bernice Weber; back, Lisa Leslie, Mark Leslie, Paul Brown, Minto deputy mayor and 2016 IPM chair Ron Faulkner, councillor Ron Elliott (Norgan Theatre) and Gary Sothern. Absent: Greg Desaulniers of Rural Spoon Cafe, Luke and Crystal Hartungof the Minto Farmer’s Market and Harwill Farms, Jim Harkness of Harkness Equipment Ltd. and HARCO Ag Equipment.

Stinson receives lifetime achievement award from chamber BY PATRICK RAFTIS


HARRISTON - The Minto Chamber of Commerce hosted the 8th Annual Community Achievement Awards in April at Harriston Legion Branch 296. With over 90 people in attendance the awards dinner was “a huge success,” said chamber business development coordinator Somer Gerber. Among the evening’s highlights was the presentation of the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement award to Laverne Stinson, who retired in 2015 after 30 years of operating a small engine repair business in Minto. Stinson, a life-long Minto resident who served on Minto Township council from 1965 to 1970, has been active in the community in variety of ways. He was a member of the Mount Forest Harmonaires for 43 years and worked on the committees organizing Savour the Flavours of Minto and the Frank Kelly Memorial Golf Tournament. He is a past president of the HarristonMinto Agricultural Society and is currently secretary of the organization. “His resume highlights his love of singing,

helping his fellow man and repairing problems,” stated Glen Hall, master of ceremonies for the event. “If there’s a need to be filled Laverne will fill it.” Noting Stinson has been secretary of the agricultural society since 2004, Hall quipped, “There was a suggestion in my notes here that if anyone was willing, the secretary job could be filled by someone else - see Laverne after the meeting.” Stinson thanked the chamber for honouring him with the award. “There’s been a lot of memories - 77 years of them - and yes, I always have trouble going to a meeting and not saying what I thought,” he said “Sometimes it got me in trouble.” Other achievement award recipients were: - OSiM Interactive Business Community Involvement Award: Leslie Motors; - Wightman Telecom Young Entrepreneur Award; Greg Desaulniers, Rural Spoon Café; - Town of Minto Business of the Year Under 10 Employees Award: Felix and Bernice Weber’s Ag Business and Crop Inc.; - McLaughlin Financial Group Business

519.843.2741 540 Blair St., Fergus, N1M 1S4

of the Year Over 10 Employees Award: Wightman Telecom; and - Saugeen Economic Development Corporation Exceptional Customer Service Award: Wightman Telecom. Special Recognition Awards were presented by the Community Achievement Award Committee to: - Gary Sothern of Capri Hairstyling, in recognition of his many years in business and dedication to the community; - Luke and Crystal Hartung of Harwill Farms, in recognition of their dedication to the Minto Farmer’s Market; and - the 2016 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo executive and volunteers, in recognition of their dedication and successful event. MILESTONES

Recognized for achieving business milestones were: Jim Harkness Equipment Ltd. for its 40th anniversary, Leslie Motors (50th anniversary); The Norgan Theatre (70 years); and Brown Insurance Brokers (90 years).

Maintaining the latest industry standards and custom state-of-the-art colour matching for paint repairs, CARSTAR Fergus Giles Collision repairs are backed by the CARSTAR Lifetime Nationwide warranty. Professional automotive repair in Fergus since 1955.


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Businesses benefit from tourism at GRCA parks BY PATRICK RAFTIS AND OLIVIA RUTT

with Belwood, have a significant economic impact on the Centre Wellington area for sure.”

Downtown businesses are providing (visitors) with the extras that come with a full-day experience.

WELLINGTON COUNTY – In addition to protecting and managing Ontario’s waterways, woodlands and wetlands, the mandate of the province’s conservation authorities is to provide opportunities for the public to enjoy, learn from and respect Ontario’s natural environment. It’s in this latter role that the economic impact of Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) parks and facilities in Wellington County is most strongly felt by local communities. GRCA parks within the county include Belwood Lake, Conestogo Lake and Guelph Lake, plus the Elora Gorge, Elora Quarry and Rockwood conservation areas, and the Luther Marsh wildlife sanctuary. In 2016, these facilities attracted an estimated 130,400 campers and sold 348,454 day passes, for a total of 478,854 visitors. In addition, Conestogo Lake boasts nearly 400 cottage lots, while Belwood Lake has 335. While the authority does not currently track economic impact data, GRCA conservation areas manager Andrea Riley notes it’s substantial, with the two Elora facilities generating the lion’s share of the traffic in Wellington. “The GRCA has been part of a larger programming and tourism group in the EloraFergus or Centre Wellington area, so the township itself does recognize that the Elora Gorge and the Elora Quarry contribute significantly to drawing consumers into the area,” said Riley. “The two parks in the Elora area, along


Centre Wellington tourism and destination coordinator Deb Dalziel said the natural aspects of the municipality are unique. “We recognize and are working very hard to promote our natural and heritage assets that we have here in Centre Wellington, and we are so fortunate to have three GRCA parks,” she said. With the two Elora parks bringing in the most traffic in Wellington County, they also bring a large economic impact to the busi-

nesses in the downtowns. Kendra Martin, communications coordinator for the township, said the parks are the biggest draw for the community and businesses are benefitting from that tourism. “I think it’s a great spinoff. The tourists are coming here for that aspect, and we are providing them, and downtown businesses are providing them, with the extras that come with a full-day experience,” she said. In a visitor experience analysis completed by Elora and Fergus Tourism in 2016, the most popular activity for visitors was the Elora Gorge and the Elora Quarry. The survey noted the gorge was the top primary reason for visiting the area (40%) followed by shopping and dining. The quarry was also noted as a primary reason for visiting (11%). Individually, the Elora Gorge drew 58,902 campers and about 83,400 day visitors in 2016, making it the busiest park in Wellington County with a total of 142,302 visitors. The quarry and Belwood Lake facilities do not offer camping but sold 85,000 and 44,000 day passes respectively last year. In Mapleton, Conestogo Lake drew nearly 12,500 campers in 2016. Combined with over 37,000 day passes, the park drew around 49,500 visitors last year. “We’ve identified Conestogo as one of our parks that we’re looking to market a little more


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in-depth. With some of the new development in the Mapleton area and the back end of Elmira, we have some kind of hidden gems and Conestogo would be one of them,” said Riley. Mapleton Mayor Neil Driscoll said the impact of the lake’s proximity can be seen in the number of cottagers that regularly visit local businesses. “I know you recognize a lot of the cottagers that go to the grocery store ... and then you see them out at Marspan (building centre) and you see them in at Dobben’s (hardware store) and then if their boat needs a tune up you see them in at Dippel’s Garage,” he noted. Driscoll explained the park provides a benefit without a significant burden on municipal resources. “They pay their taxes to the GRCA, and we get them back from the GRCA.” Driscoll said while the township does provide building department services to cottagers, “We don’t have to provide a lot of services other than those roads that lead into the lake.” Driscoll said he definitely considers Conestogo Lake an asset to the township. “It’s just one more beautiful piece of Mapleton that we have.” The Rockwood Conservation Area accommodated about 27,800 campers and about 62,400 day trippers last year. Guelph Lake provided a camping experience for about 31,200, while 35,800 day passes were sold at the facility, in 2016. Guelph-Eramosa Mayor Chris White, who also is the vice-chair of the GRCA board, said the parks create a sense of identity within the township, calling the Rockwood park the “heart of the community.” He also said there is a positive economic impact from the conservation areas but in different ways.

“(Guelph Lake) pulls people into the township, so from an economic development perspective, I think a lot of the benefit goes to Guelph … but it’s still an important park in the middle of our community that our people use. It’s a piece of who we are,” he said. White said the township is still working on ways to move people into downtown Rockwood while they camp at the conservation area. “Our challenge, and we’ve had this for a number of years, is to try to figure out a way to draw the people out of the park,” he said. One of the tools the township has developed is a map of the downtown, highlighting the businesses tourists could potentially visit. While the Luther Marsh in Wellington North draws visitors for hunting, fishing and environmental tourism, there is no camping at the facility and day use figures for 2016 were not available. “Luther Marsh is unique in the fact that it’s not considered a GRCA park from a recreation perspective. It’s a wildlife sanctuary,” said Riley. “There’s a lot of environmental and conservation work that’s done in that area. Obviously, it does have a significant impact during hunting season. We have a very formal hunting program there at the marsh, so that’s a draw

for a lot of hunters and anglers depending on what season we’re in.” It is also unique in the sense that it is split down the middle by two municipalities - Wellington North and the Town of Grand Valley - with the access point on the Grand Valley side. Wellington North Mayor Andy Lennox said he wishes to have more access to the marsh. “There’s the Luther Marsh, which is a huge gem in our community, a wonderful nature preserve, but public access is extremely limited,” he said. “We’d love to have access for people to hike or bike in there because it’s relatively close to our rail trail that runs from Arthur to Grand Valley; it could connect via road connection.” Lennox said it is difficult to measure economic impact from the wildlife area because it’s restricted. He added he wants “some of the more populous municipalities that really run the conservation authority (to) realize ... we would like to have some of that benefit in our community as well,” he said. “We don’t want to mess with the natural heritage; we just want people to be able to come and enjoy it.” In addition to drawing visitors, GRCA parks in Wellington County provide employment for 119 people, including both summer and regular park staff, many of whom are county residents. The Elora Gorge, with 35, has the largest staff contingent, while Guelph Lake



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Our challenge, and we’ve had this for a number of years, is to try to figure out a way to draw the people out of the park. CHRIS WHITE, GUELPH-ERAMOSA MAYOR

is next with 21, followed by Conestogo (20), Rockwood (18), Elora Quarry (12), Belwood Lake (11) and Luther Marsh (two). Despite a heavy focus on camping, Riley says single-day visitors have a major impact on park use. “In those situations obviously people are coming in for our nature centre programs and activities that are little bit more structured, using waterways and reservoirs for outdoor recreation, swimming … we’re really trying to work on our trail network in a lot of our urban parks and looking at developing a plan to formalize and expand some of the services we offer.” Riley notes GRCA officials are working on a system that will allow them to better track usage and economic impact of their facilities. “We’re looking at installing controlled access that would give us a better understanding of where our members are coming from and where our day users are coming from.

That would give us a better understanding of our overall impact,” she explained. “In our urban parks, where people tend to walk in to use the facilities in evening hours, whether for an evening picnic or just a family outing for hiking or some kind of a gathering with friends, they typically will buy a day-use pass or a park-specific pass, meaning they don’t travel to a GRCA park to camp overnight. “But that park is usually in their


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area or at their backdoor, so they use that park on a regular basis.” Out of area visitors and local residents both use the parks, the latter keeping money in the community, contributing to the impact on the local economy, Riley notes. “We’re actually experiencing that in a significant way in the Elora-Fergus area with the Elora Quarry … it’s marketed and really promoted as a day-use area, a natural swimming location and we’re seeing users come in from the GTA in very large numbers,” she said. “Last year we estimated that there were over 80,000 users and it’s only open for a threemonth period. So with that information, along with some of the stresses that we see on our resources, we have decided to move in a different management direction this year with that location,” Riley stated. “We will be managing capacity much more proactively at the Elora Quarry so we will be capping the number of visitors at 1,300 per day

and we will be moving to a wristband system that will help us manage capacity and allow us to manage the trespassing that happens into that area as well.” However, Riley anticipates the capacity restrictions will work to the advantage of local businesses. “We’ve been working actively with the

township and the tourism office in Elora ... to drive people not only to our GRCA parks … but there’s a lot more to do in this area,” she said. With the number of visitors the Elora parks draw each year, Dalziel and Martin are hoping to direct those turned away from the Elora Quarry into the downtown. Riley explained there will be an ambassador program within the Centre Wellington parks. “We’re partnering with them through their ambassador programs this year,” she said. “They have tourism ambassadors for EloraFergus that will be working within the Elora Gorge and Elora Quarry to educate people on what other active recreation or opportunities are available to them when our parks are at capacity so we can redirect them into the core area of the community, whether it’s restaurants, pubs, small business or other attractions.”



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+ Balances

Cheque presentations, draw winners and donations around the county.

Royal LePage Royal City Realtors dig deep to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. A little rain didn’t stop Royal LePage Royal City Fergus Realtors in the Canadian Cancer Society’s, Paint the Town Yellow photo contest. Congratulations to the Fergus office, for winning the title of Fight Back Champions among all submissions to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Waterloo Wellington Community Office. Royal LePage Royal City Realty offices in Fergus, Rockwood and Guelph raised $867 in pledges during April’s Cancer Awareness month. For the third year in a row, Wightman held a draw for a chance to win a Smart TV at the Fergus Lions Home Show in May. Nancy Marshall, right, was the winner, and her husband, John Marshall went with her to pick up the TV at Wightman’s Fergus office.

This spring students from Erin District High School received a $9,800 donation from TD Canada Trust. The money from the TD Friends of the Environment fund was donated to the school to be used for EDHS’s Farm Project - a student-run garden. The garden will allow students to grow vegetables and other plants to be used in the cafeteria. Any extra vegetables will be given to the East Wellington Community Services food bank. Kneeling, Tessa Dandy. From left: front, Adrienne Sultana of Everdale Farm, Beata Siranias of TD Bank, Dawn Kivell of TD Bank, Megan Crane, Amanda Coote and Margarita Claus. Back: Stephanie Vanderzande, Carolyn Cabral, Charlotte Gooding and teacher advisor Scott Hall.

Scotiabank donated to the Centre Wellington Food Bank. From left, Food Bank board of directors chair Jackie Andrews, Fergus Scotiabank branch manager Nicole Buckle and Scotiabank manager of customer service Patricia Crowder. Scotiabank’s annual turkey drive raised over $13,600 allowing the bank to match up to a $5,000 donation. The annual month-long campaign each December funds the provision of meat for the food bank Chrismas hamper program.


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Elora Quarry: #famous BY OLIVIA RUTT


Capital Paving has committed to partnering with Sunrise Therapeutic Riding and Learning Centre over the next five years. This spring they donated their time, machinery and expertise to remove an imploded silo, improve barnyard drainage and surfacing, and repair and remodel the accessible ramps to the Sunrise office. A sign recognizing Capital Paving Inc.’s contributions was revealed at the Celebrate Sunrise event on June 4. The event raised more than $65,000 in support of Sunrise’s therapy and recreation programs for children and adults with special needs. From left: Alison and Jim Kelly of Capital Paving Inc.; Sunrise riders Jordan Tucker and Rebecca Wilkie; and Sunrise board president Ann Caine with the sign.

Linamar Corporation presented Groves Hospital Foundation with a $100,000 donation to the New Groves Hospital Project on June 1 at the Linamar head office in Guelph. Linamar Corporation, and the Hasenfratz family, have been longtime supporters of health care in Wellington County. Linamar Corporation will be naming the therapeutic dining and activity lounge in the complex continuing care unit of the new Groves hospital, providing a welcoming, homey space for long-term patients and their families. Officials say “Groves hospital is very grateful to Linamar for their incredible generosity.” From left: Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz; Groves Foundation executive director Lori Arsenault and Groves board vice-chair and foundation board member Ian Hornsby. To date the new Groves hospital project has raised $14.4 million, which is 72% of the $20 million goal.

ELORA - With over 85,000 day passes sold annually at the Elora Quarry, it is easy to see why it gets so busy. The blue-green waters, the tall cliffs and the soft sand make the quarry an ideal spot for people who want to enjoy the beach without the long drive. In May 2017, before the park even opened for the year, the Elora Quarry received many online accolades. Large travel media sites such as Travel+Leisure, Thrillist and Narcity have labelled the swimming hole as “a little pocket of paradise.” The Narcity article was shared over 8,100 times. The video by Thrillist was shared on Facebook over 22,300 times, and garnered over 9,800 reactions and 7,200 comments. The GRCA park has decided to implement a cap of 1,300 people this year, using wristbands to discourage trespassing. Tourism officials are hoping the cap will have a positive impact on the local businesses in Elora. Centre Wellington tourism and destination coordinator Deb Dalziel said township officials want to have a tourism ambassador in the park on Saturdays “to share daily events ... to encourage people to explore other options.”



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Festival season means boom for businesses WELLINGTON COUNTY – Summer has long been a time for outdoor festivals, weekend entertainment and community fun. But festivals are more than just an adventure for weekend warriors, they are a source of significant tourism dollars for towns throughout Ontario. The festival business is booming, and Wellington County is benefiting. Annually, Ontario festivals bring in $2.38 billion and though many county festivals are not-for-profit, local businesses see a chunk of these tourism dollars. “The larger festivals certainly attract tourists from outside of the local community, which is always great for the economy, whether they are out visiting restaurants or staying in hotels or [bed and breakfasts] that sort of thing,” said Kathrin Delutis, CEO of Festivals and Events Ontario. Delutis said in many cases local businesses work in partnership with festivals to best capitalize on tourist traffic. “A really good example is when a festival not only has their activity taking place on specific grounds or in a park but they engage the business community by also having additional ... entertainment,” she said. This is a focus of the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games, a three-day

festival celebrating everything Scottish that welcomes 15,000 to 20,000 visitors annually. Though it has been a challenge to engage downtown Fergus businesses since the festival moved from Victoria Park to the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex, president David Radley said the festival hasn’t stopped trying. “Thursday night last year we actually closed [St. Andrews Street] down so it became much more a pedestrian thoroughfare and we’re kind of hoping with that the downtown merchants will use that to kind of attract people,” he said. Also, throughout the weekend Radley said festival performers make appearances in downtown bars and pubs. “We split the cost with [the bars and pubs] ... we have most of the acts that we have up at the festival ... perform at each of the bars downtown, so that brings in a lot of business,” he said. “They all see it as a tremendous weekend and the Celtic music goes over very well in the Fergus area. There’s still a lot of Scottish background people and you get some pretty good acts down there.” To draw even more people to the downtown core, Radley said the festival partners with the Fergus BIA to offer shuttle buses to transport people from the sportsplex to downtown

Fergus. While the festival business is growing Delutis said the key to a successful event is volunteer and community engagement. “Whether it’s a tourism drawn festival or not, it needs the community support, whether that’s municipal support to help with things such as road closures, use of parks, equipment, facilities, that sort of thing, or even more importantly volunteers,” she said.




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Community support is the backbone of the Mount Forest Fireworks Festival. Main Street in Mount Forest has closed for the third weekend in July for the past 16 years for the community festival and car show. This year will be no different. “The township is a great partner and we request permission to close the road for the festival and for 17 years they’ve approved it,” said Mount Forest and Area Chamber of Commerce president David Sharpe. The festival is a three-day event featuring a demolition derby, classic car show, local entertainment, kids activities and, of course, fireworks. “From our perspective, we’re getting people into town and hoping the businesses can capitalize on them,” Sharpe said. He added many of the businesses offer sidewalk sales or special coupons during the Fireworks Festival. Sharpe said that last year Youngsters on Main, a children’s clothing store in Mount Forest, had a unique marketing idea for the festival.

“Their lead promotion was headphones for babies,” he said. “You know they go to the fireworks, it’s too loud, they’ve got their earmuff headphones as part of their lead promotion for the weekend.” Also, with the car show closing down Main Street, Sharpe said the stores generally see increased foot traffic. “There’s all kinds of little things that can spin off and our focus is on making sure the people come and they’re getting entertained and we’re hoping the businesses kind of use their own creativity and their own skills to capitalize,” Sharpe said. He added the goal is for some of the 20,000 annual festival-goers to return to businesses in Mount Forest. “Showing off the Main Street is definitely the priority where people are walking around,” Sharpe said. “Maybe they’re eating their hotdogs and fries and ice cream or looking at the cars ... maybe they take notice of the businesses that we do have in our downtown and that might be a reason to return again.” Wellington North’s economic development

officer Dale Small said one of the challenges festivals experience is businesses asking how tourism traffic is actually impacting their individual business. “Not all of these events support all of the businesses and therefore there are probably economic negatives that happen to those businesses,” Small said. “The really good ones step up and say ‘you know what? It’s great for the community and yes, maybe it’s not all that great for my business on that day, but it’s a great event for the community and I need to support it.’ “And those are the type of communityminded businesses that are so awesome to have in your community.” Sharpe gave an example of one such business. “Often we hear from our business Meat the Butcher that the Saturday (is) absolutely dead for him, but the days leading up and the weeks and months later he gets people coming back saying, ‘Oh I noticed you at the Fireworks Festival,’” Sharpe said. “There’s people in town that [are] having all kinds of family over so

‘‘The township is a great partner and we request permission to close the road for the festival and for 17 years they’ve approved it ...’’ DAVID SHARPE, PRESIDENT, MOUNT FOREST AND AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE



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What’s really important to remember is when tourism dollars arrive in your town it’s a new dollar, it’s not a recycled dollar ... DEB DALZIEL, CENTRE WELLINGTON TOURISM AND DESTINATION COORDINATOR

Centre Wellington tourism and destination coordinator Deb Dalziel explained the tourism traffic festivals create is vital to the local economy. “What’s really important to remember is when tourism dollars arrive in your town it’s a new dollar, it’s not a recycled dollar,” Dalziel said. “The trickle-down effect is really quite impactful because ... they’ve come in, they’re leaving their economic spin on the community and they’re driving away again.” There are many festivals and events held throughout Wellington County all year. For a full list of what the county has to offer visit The Mount Forest Fireworks Festival is scheduled for July 14 to 16 and the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games will take place Aug. 11 to 13.



they prepare the days ahead and they stock up as well.” Engaging the local business community is also a priority for the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games. For example, Ron Wilkin Jewellers creates all the festival’s trophies, the Goofie Newfie runs the beer tent on the festival grounds and Bentley Tea House offers the tea tent at the sportsplex. “It was started as a community event in 1946 and we’ve tried to keep it that way,” Radley said. “The whole idea of the festival is to ... showcase a bit of the Scottish culture and we’re a non-profit organization, we’re not out to make big money and ... we feel that ... we’re an integral part of the community... “We could do it cheaper sometimes, but we use the local staples.”


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Your Neighbourhood




We are looking forward to welcoming day trippers and locals alike to our downtown with the nice weather now here! The Village of Erin is a beautiful setting with unique shops and businesses, and the sunny days make it a great place for a stroll. The downtown also features great patios for food and relaxation with friends. New this summer we will be hosting the Erin Farmer’s Market in the downtown core at McMillan Park, Friday evenings from 3 to 7pm from June 30 to Sept 29.




This is important from both a heritage and an economic perspective. The heritage of buildings helps to tell the story of a town; where we have come from as a community and how that has helped shape what we are today. The heritage of the buildings also helps to entice visitors to come and enjoy the history and beauty of a historic downtown. WHAT SPECIFIC PLANS DOES THE BIA HAVE FOR ITS COVERAGE AREA THIS SUMMER? ANYTHING DIFFERENT?

In addition to the farmer’s market, we are working to bring more events and activities into our downtown by partnering with local municipal and service groups. We enjoyed a Doors Open event in early June where the historic downtown was prominently featured, and also hosted the Rotary Club’s Ribfest in our downtown core. We hope to continue to build on this avenue to make the downtown a destination for a variety of reasons.

We look forward to you driving with us, whatever your vehicle needs.

935 St. David St. N., Fergus (Behind Blinkhorn’s Ultramar)



The more that happens in the core, the more relevant it becomes! To help support this initiative we are having significant infrastructure upgrades which we hope to see in place in 2017: a parking lot paving project which will add 70 parking spaces to our downtown, a crosswalk to help calm traffic and make it easier to travel around our core, and a Riverwalk with its first phase starting right in the heart of the Village of Erin’s historic centre. Email: Website:

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Rob Blinkhorn - MGR


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WELLINGTON COUNTY - A cool drink on a hot summer day is, for many, a quintessential Canadian experience. Luckily, in Wellington County, there’s no shortage of local brews and spirits. Craft breweries and distilleries have been popping up over the last few years throughout the province. Ontario Craft Brewers has more than 180 operating members and the Ontario Craft Distillers Association has 16 active members. More recently, spirit enthusiasts have been seeking out these breweries and distilleries as a destination, making the tourist experience important to the overall success of the business.

He explained that he sometimes takes Elora Brewing Company beer out to a local landmark like Lover’s Leap, creates a video and posts it to


One of Wellington County’s craft breweries is the Elora Brewing Company, which opened in the fall of 2015. Located on Geddes Street in Elora, the owners knew prior to opening that they would focus on bringing some of the town’s tourist traffic into the brewery. The downtown location was strategic. “Elora is in itself a town that already draws a lot of people,” said co-owner Matt Lawson. “I know that when we were first going through our business proposal to open this place we looked at the numbers and they were pretty staggering.” Lawson said he uses social media to promote the brewery in conjunction with the town.

social media. “Expose the intricacies of the town to draw people as well because people could come here for recreation, they could come here for camping, they come here to go fishing, or boating, or whatever and then also say ‘Hey let’s go there

and then we’ll stop at the brewery for lunch,’” he said. “So using that and using sort of the power of the natural landscape and the draw of the heritage in the communities is really important.” However, Lawson said there has been a shift: now the brewery also draws people to the town, rather than the town bringing people to the brewery. Lawson said knowing the brewery is generating tourism traffic of its own - he estimates 50% of business is tourism related - has led the brewery to release a specialty beer that is only available at the brewery itself. “When people know that they have something here that they haven’t tried, maybe they’re from Cambridge, or they’re from Waterloo or Guelph or Toronto,” he said. “It will make it worth the drive for them if they know we have an upper-end beer ... that they’ve never tried that they can take home with them or come to the bar and try as well.” Wild Saison with Brett Blend, for example, is artisanal in nature using wild yeasts and some other interesting ingredients, Lawson said. One of the recent tourism trends is craft brewery and distillery tours, for which tourists plan visit a few different establishments in one day. Because there are a number of breweries in the area, Lawson said the Elora Brewing Company benefits with these self-guided tours. He said the brewery is also part of a tour




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While craft breweries have boomed in recent years, there are still a limited number of craft distillers in Ontario. One of them is located in Guelph. Centre Wellington natives Kevin (Chevy) Patterson, Jeremie Dixon and Vicky Dixon opened Dixon’s Distilled Spirits almost two years ago and they say tourism is a big part of their business. “On the weekends in here we (offer) tours all the time so we’re on Groupon, Wag Jag, and just even people emailing into the distillery,” Patterson said.

We looked at the (tourism) numbers and they were pretty staggering ...

company called Brew Donkey, which allows spirit enthusiasts to hop on a bus and visit a selection of breweries for a flat fee. On those tours the Elora Brewing Company offers a tour and tasting. “It’s a really inexpensive way to expose people to what you have to offer and a lot of times we’ve had people come in here and the space is very appealing and say, ‘Oh I’m definitely coming back,’” Lawson said. He added the brewery also offers tours by special request when guests call ahead. “We don’t have tours running on the hour like some breweries do but we do have a lounge upstairs that we staff on Saturdays and people up there are very happy to talk about the brewery and the whole process and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “And if you just wanted to come in you can ... take a look at the mezzanine upstairs and take a look down at everything that’s happening down there. “It’s very self-explanatory.”


Last year the distillery offered tours regularly during the week; however, they became so popular Dixon’s had to limit tours to the weekend so they wouldn’t disturb the production process. “Most weekends are a zoo,” Patterson said. “It’s crazy. Which is good right and it’s nonstop tours. We run tours on the hour right from 1 to 6 o’clock on Saturday and then right from noon to 4 on Sundays.” However, much of the tourism adjustments have been adapted on the job. “We knew going in ... that it had to be a part of it,” Patterson said. “Looking back on it now I don’t think we realized how big it has become.” The distillery is also part of the Brew Donkey

tour. Patterson said most people who come in for a tour leave with a purchase. And many also return. Vicky said they have a couple of regular customers from Ottawa who stop in whenever they’re in Guelph for Dixon’s products. Another source of tourism dollars for the distillery is festivals and food and wine shows. “I was working the store the day of the [Waterloo Region Food and Drink Show] and I had people coming in from the wine show over here. They said, ‘Oh I just tried your gin or your gin fusion at the wine show, I want to buy some.’” And this isn’t isolated. The owners say they get people from various festivals coming to Guelph to buy their product after sampling the distillery’s spirits. Patterson said he thinks it’s the uniqueness of the business that draws people in. “I always ask people, when I’m doing a tour here, ‘Have you ever seen a brewery or a winery?’ And about 99% of the people put their hands up ... I ask ‘have you seen a distillery?’” he said. “It’s pretty rare that anyone puts their hand up so it’s a very unique business for sure.” ADDITIONAL BREWERIES

There are a number of craft breweries throughout Guelph and Wellington County, including: - Four Father Brewing Co. in Rockwood; - Wellington Brewery in Guelph; - StoneHammer Brewing in Guelph; - Royal City Brewing Co. in Guelph; and - Brothers Brewing Co. in Guelph.



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GRAND OPENINGS & Anniversaries Radio opening MOUNT FOREST - The River 88.7 held its grand opening on May 9 at 5:30 pm. Attendees were given the opportunity to see behind the scenes of the radio station and check out their new facilities.

Dan Allen Financial opens new office FERGUS - Dan Allen Financial has opened a new office at 181 St. Andrew St. E. in Fergus. The company offered an open house on June 12.

Bounce Playground open

Grand Valley Home Hardware celebrates new store GRAND VALLEY – Grand Valley Home Hardware celebrated its new store with an official grand opening on May 5. Grand Valley Home Hardware has reopened under new ownership in a new location on County Road 109. “We are thrilled with the opportunity to provide quality products and services to the community of Grand Valley,” the owners, Brian, Terri, Scott and

Corrine Arthurs. “Home Hardware is 100 per cent Canadian-owned and we look forward to providing superior services for all of our customers.” The dealer-owners are ready to showcase their modern facility which features everything from hardware, propane cylinder and auto fills, individual coffee pods, colour-match paint system and garden centre.

ELORA - The Fergus Bounce Playground held a ribbon cutting and open house on June 9. The indoor playground offers indoor birthday parties and a soft play toddler area. Fergus Bounce Playground is located in Elora at 6484 Wellington Road 7.

Puzzle Rooms opens FERGUS - Earlier this year Puzzle Rooms Canada opened at 198 St Andrew Street West in Fergus. The local family-owned company offers puzzle room entertainment. A puzzle room has participants racing against time to: challenge their mind, search out clues, play together to conquer fun puzzles and unravel the mysteries to win the game. Check out for more information. Owner Jason Heican be reached at info@

Auto business reopening ALMA - Buehler Automotive in Alma re-opened June 23 under the NAPA Autopro banner. The business also offered a customer appreciation day on its reopening.

LEFT: Leonard’s General Store owner Leonard Underwood has flipped the lid on a new business venture. The grand opening of Clifford Takeout was held on in May at 29 Elora Street North in Clifford. RIGHT: From left: pizza chef Josh Alexander, deputy mayor Ron Faulkner, owner Leonard Underwood, Town of Minto councillor Judy Dirksen and treasurer Gordon Duff cut the ribbon. The restaurant is open Tuesday and Wednesday 4:30 to 8pm, Thursday 4:30 to 9pm and Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10pm. Customers can call 519-327-8600.

Casa Verde Imports open Casa Verde Imports in Elora is now open seven days a week. The business is located off the patio of The Metcalfe Inn at 59 Metcalfe Street, on the corner of Metcalfe and Mill


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I Love Chocolate has moved to a new location on St. Andrews Street into the historic James Russell building. Mayor Kelly Linton and Councillor Steve Vanleeuwen visited the store on June 23 for a ribbon cutting with Cheryl Laythorpe Marsland and staff.


JL’s Home Hardware celebrates reopening GUELPH – JL’s Home Hardware has completed an extensive transformation of the Grange Road member in its group of companies. The ambitious renovation plans began September 2016 with the official grand reopening event and sale that took place on April 28 to 30. On April 29 the business held a charity barbecue with donations going to Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis. After relocating the main building centre location in 2014, renovations of this and other JL’s branded locations were part of the company’s long-term plans and commitment to its customers and community. All of the JL’s Home Hardware locations now have the most up to date means of merchandising technology and techniques. New services that enhance the customer experience when shopping the newly renovated 259 Grange Road location include: upgraded computer equipment, upgraded fixtures and branding, and new LED lighting systems throughout the store making this store more energy efficient. “We’re extremely proud of the renovations done to the JL’s location at 259 Grange Road,” said Andre Belisle, dealer-owner of JL’s Home Hardware Building Centre. “You could say that we renewed our commitment of staying within the

Guelph community as one of the city’s business partners. “The store has been re-fit and re-merchandised to better serve all our retail and contractor customers. We look forward to seeing all our old friends and making new ones as our family continues to help your family.” The JL’s Home Hardware team acknowledges the importance of the customer’s shopping experience by making these extensive renovations, constantly training staff and being able to offer customers access to over 100,000 Home Hardware products. JL’s Home Hardware also completed renovations at the Elmira store. The building at 5 Duke Street in Elmira, is approximately 125-years old. JL Belisle franchised the property in 1996, joined the Home Hardware group and has occupied the property since. The ambitious renovation plans began April 2016 with the official grand reopening in May. The JL’s Home Hardware family also acknowledges the importance and tradition of the Mennonite community and their customers. The Elmira location always had a place to tie up horse and buggies but has provided a new covered building to help shelter horses as part of the renovation to the store and yard. There is also a plan to install a new fresh watering station for this store’s more equine visitors.

Wolfgang Stichnothe of Elora and Karen Rogers opened a new Freshii restaurant at 84 Clair Road East in Guelph. They held an opening celebration on in February. The menu offers a wide variety of chef designed items or the customer can create their own wrap, salad, bowl, burrito or soup with over 70 fresh ingredients and dressings.

Another ribbon cutting arranged by the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce officially opened the new offices of the community radio station 101.1. Spokesman Larry Peters said that the station has been in operation for over five years now, first in downtown Fergus and now in a new building on Garafraxa St E. They also upgraded their frequency so that the signal is clearer and can be heard by all of Centre Wellington and beyond. He went on to say, “The station is all about community and are very happy with being here.” Helping with the ribbon cutting ceremonies are, from left: Scott Jensen president, Aileen Hawkins representing the chamber, Mayor Kelly Linton, Larry Peters radio host, Stephen Kitras representing township council, Erin Montgomery morning host and councillors Steven VanLeeuwen, Kirk McElwain and Fred Morris.


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5th Anniversary MOUNT FOREST - On May 11 at 6pm Shelly’s Just for You Spa in Mount Forest celebrated five years in business with a come and go open house. There were a few woman oriented vendors present including: DoTerra Essential Oils by Pam Zmija; Xngular Supplements by Terri Raffan; Signature Home Styles by Kelly Dimick, Pampered Chef by Bev Burgess, Thirty One by Kara and wine tasting, appetizers and swag bags for the first 50 attendees. The business is located at 45 Sparberry St. in Mount Forest and can be contacted at or 519-323-3205.

Fraberts Fresh Food celebrates 9th anniversary FERGUS - Fraberts Fresh Food celebrated its 9th anniversary on May 13. Representatives from 4-H Ontario were on hand to raise awareness and funds for the youth leadership program. “We’ve now been part of this amazing community for nine years,” stated Chef Derek Roberts, co-owner of Fraberts Fresh Food. “Every year we throw a little party to show our appreciation to the loyal customers who have supported us over the years.” Fraberts Fresh Food opened its doors in May of 2008, focussing on local produce, meat, freshly baked bread, ready-made meals, and catering services. The store expanded in January of 2012, doubling in size and increasing its selection to include a larger meat counter, deli sandwiches, and pizzas to go. Fraberts Fresh Food is a family-run local food market and catering business open seven days a week in the Historic Marketplace on the River in beautiful downtown Fergus. 4-H provides youth with a place they can be involved, accepted, valued and heard while developing valuable skills for leadership and life

20th Anniversaries MOUNT FOREST - McLeod’s Painting and Decorating celebrated its 20th anniversary on Jan. 12.

The event was hosted at the Uptown Entertainment Centre. McLeod’s Painting and Decorating is located at 108 Normanby Street South Mount Forest, N0G 2L1. The store can be reached at 519-323-3865. ELORA - The Gorge Country Kitchen celebrated its 20th anniversary on June 24. The restaurant is located on Wellington Road 7 in the south end of Elora.

30th Anniversary FERGUS - Special Effects Ladies Fashion is celebrating its 30th anniversary in July. The business is located at 195 St. Andrew St. W. in Fergus. The phone number is 519-843-4610.

50th Anniversary FERGUS - Grand River Dental is celebrating 50 years in Centre Wellington. The practice is located at 445 St. Andrew Street West in Fergus. The practice can be reached at 519-843-1991. FERGUS - Ron Wilkin Jewellers is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Look for a celebration in the fall. Ron Wilkin Jewellers is located at 109 St Andrew St. west in Fergus. More information can be found at BELWOOD - Highland Pines Campground has also been in operation for 50 years. The campground is located on Wellington Road 19 between Belwood and Fergus. More information can be found at

118th Anniversary ELORA - The BMO Bank of Montreal in Elora celebrated the bank’s 118 anniversary in May. The Elora branch is located at 125 Geddes St. BL

Canada150 - Three women at Pike Lake Golf Centre between Mount Forest and Hamilton celebrated Canada’s 150th by planting begonias.


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Tracy Price, right, of Price Team Mortgages had a vision/dream of seeing the community paint the town red for Canada 150. She purchased “Canada 150” flags and is giving them away for free. Receiving her flag is Jennifer Thomson Vettor.


Canadian pride on display

2017-06-27 8:16 AM

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Restoring life to heritage building in downtown Fergus BY MIKE ROBINSON

If you don’t take care of a building, eventually the structural integrety will fail ... and then it is an easier decision to allow the building to be demolished


years ago, was all the heritage buildings which were so nicely restored. We thought this was such a unique building ... we took pity on it and didn’t want it to go the way of (RBC bank) across the street. “If you don’t take care of a building, eventually the structural integrity will fail ... and then it is an easier decision to allow the building to be demolished.” She noted that the Marshall Block is currently not a designated heritage building, though the Clarke’s plan to seek such a designation after the restoration work is complete. “The first thing we did was tackle the slate and copper mansard roofing and the dome,” Clarke said “It was covered in asphalt shingles ... and they were curling up. You could tell there was a lot of water damage happening.” Clarke explained neither she nor her husband had any desire to replace the roofing with asphalt. “We wanted it to look uniform and the way it should look,” she said. As a result, the Clarkes undertook research

at the Wellington County Museum and Archives to find photographs of how the building originally look. “We didn’t do it exactly the way it was because we thought the design was a little busy with the horizontal bands, but we thought the diamonds looked really nice.” That work, by Forever Green Roofing, of Bradford, happened in 2014. Then the Clarkes engaged the services of Grinham Architects of Guelph to help redesign the interior to ensure the work was done properly and that it met building codes. Part of that included re-pointing the entire front fascia, done by Castle Masonry, in 2015. Clarke noted when work was done on the dome, the dormers had deteriorated “to the point of being like driftwood washed up on a beach.” There was no way of simply repainting them, because there was no integrity of the wood. They had to be rebuilt, which delayed the overall project. Another difference to those familiar with the building is the corner entrance is being reinstated. A new window was installed where the former entrance to Rafferty Insurance existed. “It looks quite seamless as if it belongs there,” Clarke said. LOOKING AHEAD

“We are opening our own business on the main floor. It is going to be a coffee specialty shop with house-made pasteries,” said Lori. The focus for the moment is getting the first floor ready for a September opening, Clarke said - “definitely by November, because that would mark a full year after interior work began. “We are hoping all of the work will be completed before we open, so it will be quiet and calm in the café. “Inside, the tin roof ceiling has been fully restored. It took a lot of time and labour because it was badly ripped up over the years.” She said as modern plumbing and HVAC was installed “no one ever really expected with putting in the dropped ceiling, they never really expected anyone would ever want to see the ceiling again.” Clarke added, “starting in January, my husband was here every weekend working on the ceiling.” In addition, work had to be done on rust suppression, filling in little holes along with patching and repainting. “Now it looks beautiful,” she said. “Our contractors are really focussed on doing a great job.” For more information and updates about the site, check out the Clarkes’ website at



FERGUS - Dale and Lori Clarke are working to bring history to life with their renovations of a downtown Fergus relic. Built in 1883 for local merchant John Black, the building at the corner of St. Andrew and St. David Streets has remained an icon for over a century. The structure was once home to the Imperial Bank of Canada, and then, until recently, Rafferty Insurance. Though work began on the exterior of the building a few years ago, work on the interior began in earnest a year ago and owners hope to have the building open by fall. “We bought the building in the fall of 2013. The third floor had been vacant for a very long time and was in really rough shape,” said Lori. “One thing we really liked about the FergusElora area when we first moved here 13 to 14


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Grand and Gorgeous: The Destination Guide for Elora-Fergus Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games, Riverfest Elora, antique classic car shows, the Elora Gorge and Quarry, the list goes on. It’s safe to say Elora and Fergus draw national and international audiences to its festivals, events and unique experiences. But how did they get here? Where did they come from? And how do they find out about these events? ENTER GRAND AND GORGEOUS, A DESTINATION GUIDE FOR FERGUS AND ELORA, IN THE REGION OF CENTRE WELLINGTON. Now owned and operated by WHA Publications Ltd., the award winning travel/destination guide is back with a new arsenal of marketing strategies - both print and digital. ‘NEW TECHNOLOGIES ALLOW FOR GREATER REACH AND A MORE TARGETED, STRATEGIC APPROACH’ From brochures to posters, Facebook/Instagram to YouTube (and beyond), there has never been a better time to promote Elora and Fergus. Pairing traditional and new technologies, designed to complement one another, allow for greater reach and a more targeted, strategic approach.


‘UX AND UI DESIGN IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER’ Head over to and you’ll be greeted with a new website; large spaces for home page sections in addition to a clear navigation are one of the first steps was to improve user experience (UX) and the user interface (UI). The easier it is for a user to find what they’re looking for, the better. User experience and user interface design is more important than ever. Tourism-centric businesses shouldn’t focus on creating new experiences but should be improving their current experience. That doesn’t mean to stop expanding your products or service lines, or to stop thinking of new ideas altogether, but when I stumble upon outdated websites (which is very prominent in Centre Wellington let alone the County) with hard-tonavigate pages, you’ve lost me as a customer. There are exceptions, but if you’re promoting yourself digitally but don’t have a lead-capturing website in place, what’s the point? ‘A HUB FOR TOURISM-CENTRIC BUSINESSES’ A brand new website, the addition of new social channels, and a great network of promotional partners will bring Elora and Fergus tourism to a whole new level. The goal is simple: attract tourists to our amazing community and become the hub for tourism-centric businesses.





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Business Leader - Summer 2017  

The Business Leader is a magazine published by the Wellington Advertiser to promote local commerce, private enterprise and celebrate investm...

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