The federal government wants to hear more clinking of glasses at microbreweries, cideries and wineries throughout Eastern Ontario this summer and into the future.
The region is a Canadian gem, a rich and diverse region where visitors can enjoy a range of artisanal foods and drinks in a natural setting. Eastern Ontario’s tourism industry welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year and supports an array of good, local jobs, from entrepreneurs and artists to farmers, wine makers and distillers.
Over the past months, Canada’s tourism industry has been hit hard by COVID-19. Local microbreweries, wineries and craft cider producers have all felt the impact, with a significant drop in revenues. The Canadian government has implemented a series of significant measures to help these businesses keep their employees, pay rent and get access to capital, and is committed to helping them support jobs and opportunities as the economy reopens.
Friday, to mark International Beer Day, Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), announced $250,000 through the Canadian Experiences Fund (CEF) to help three Eastern Ontario producers enhance culinary tourism experiences, expand their product offerings and support local jobs.
“Eastern Ontario is a beautiful and bountiful part of our country, and it’s no surprise that visitors are drawn by all that it has to offer, including incredible craft beer, cider and wine. With our tourism industry feeling the impact of COVID-19, this important investment from FedDev Ontario will help three local businesses not just survive, but thrive. Our message is clear: we’ve been here for you with significant measures, we’re here for you now as our economy reopens and we’ll get through this, together. We’re working with you to support good, local jobs and help Central Ontario’s economy come back strong,” Joly said.
The investment will help three local producers grow their businesses, extend their tourism seasons and attract more visitors, both to their properties and the wider region. It will help these growing enterprises recover from the impact of COVID-19 while creating jobs and opportunities in their communities.
Kings Mill Cider, a family-run craft cider producer, located just north of Stirling, received $75,000 to expand its operations into shoulder seasons and improve the tourist experience. With this investment, King’s Mill has completed a new covered walkway and enclosed deck overlooking the orchard, a renovated kitchen and taproom area, improved road signage and parking and introduced new experiences including a wood-fueled pizza oven, walking trails and overnight tent camping.
Kings Mill Cider has two full-time employees and four part-time employees. The company uses local product and hires local personnel whenever possible.
“The Canadian Experiences Fund contribution through FedDev Ontario has transformed Kings Mill Cider from a small, rural cider producer to an agricultural tourist attraction,” said Kees Morsink, of Kings Mill. “The new features of a covered patio, additional parking, pizza oven, yurts and better signage have helped to make this Hastings County location a must-visit destination.”
Located in Tweed, Potter Settlement Artisan Winery received $100,000 to expand its tourist season by improving the buildings and property. It has added a pizza oven that can serve 50-100 customers per day, water features and new tourist amenities. Potters Settlement combines a marriage of rustic, old-world charm with up-to-date winemaking techniques. They have 12 part-time employees and their experimental vineyards has garnered them the Ontario Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation for pioneering grapes for Canada as recognized by The Grape Growers of Ontario.
“The Potter Settlement team is grateful to FedDev Ontario and the Canadian Experiences Fund for this vital contribution to help us improve our facility to enable us to draw precious tourism, increase employment and boost the economy of our community and region,” said owner Sandor Johnson. “As the only winery in Hastings County and Canada’s accredited pioneer of international award-winning organic, disease-resistant and cold-resistant grapes, these funds are helping to ensure our viability as a farm, tourist destination and an economic focal point in Eastern Ontario for generations to come.”
With more than 200 years of farming heritage, Bath’s MacKinnon Brothers Brewing uses the hops, wheat, and barley grown on their farm to brew beer. Brewing began in 2014 and they currently employ eight full-time staff in addition to the four owners. MacKinnon Brothers received $75,000 to attract more visitors by enhancing its property and hosting events. It’s building a permanent outdoor timber-frame stage to host music festivals, performances by a local theatre company and other events, which will help draw more tourists during the shoulder season.
“We at MacKinnon Brothers Brewing are very excited for the opportunity to build a permanent stage at the brewery, allowing us to continue to focus on local music and theatre. We are grateful to FedDev Ontario and the Canadian Experiences Fund for this contribution and look forward to many great shows in the future,” said Ivan MacKinnon.
In Ontario, tourism accounts for $39.4 billion of GDP and directly and indirectly supports more than 820,000 jobs.
“Tourism businesses, including artisanal cider, craft beer and wine producers, contribute to the richness of the southern Ontario landscape. The investments made today through the Canadian Experiences Fund will have a positive impact not only on the businesses themselves, but on the local economies that depend on their unique contributions,” said Kate Young, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedDev Ontario).