Thursday, 13 December 2012

2012 Elgin County Ambassador of the Year

Elgin County is pleased to announce that Adrian Peters, owner of A&M Sounds in St. Thomas, is Elgin County’s Ambassador of the Year for 2012.

Elgin County Ambassadors are people who volunteer their time to help promote business throughout Elgin County and actively participate in the growth and development of the County. The Ambassador of the Year is awarded based on points that are given to ambassadors for a variety of items including attendance at quarterly meetings, recruiting new members, promoting Elgin County at events, and informing the County’s Economic Development staff about new business in the area.

Peters built his own disc jockey service and personally hired and trained additional DJs to help him cover the approximately 100 weddings and 75 other events that A&M Sounds services each year. The business has now been operating successfully for twenty-eight years. Peters has been a regular attendee and active participant at ambassador meetings in 2012 and his disc Jockey services were an excellent addition to the 2012 Elgin County area at the London Wine & Food Show. Since the show, he has worked to connect Elgin with other local businesses who are interested in participating in 2013 and has attended meetings to present new ideas on how to make the 2013 show a success.

comes prepared to network with fellow ambassadors and is always willing to share information on upcoming events, tradeshows and new businesses," said Elgin County Warden Bill Walters. "The County would like to thank him for his enthusiasm, positive attitude and commitment to the Ambassador Program."

The Elgin County Ambassador program is open to entrepreneurs, business owners and community leaders. For more information on the program please call 519-631-1460 ext. 168 or email

Alan Smith, Elgin Economic Development General Manager and Adrian Peter, owner of A&M Sounds

Monday, 19 November 2012

Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism Celebrates Area Heritage with New Guide

 Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism is pleased to announce the release of the Elgin County Heritage Guide.

Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism released the guide to promote heritage tourism and attract visitors and residents to experience historic places in Elgin County and St. Thomas. The guide showcases the area’s rich history and encourages travelers to visit historic places and events.

"Interest in Canada’s heritage places is growing," said Tourism Development Coordinator Kathryn Russell. "As a result tourists are becoming increasingly drawn to heritage attractions. Communities that promote heritage can create popular tourist destinations. Heritage tourism enthusiasts tend to stay longer, spend more money and participate in multiple heritage-related activities while on trips."

This comprehensive guide includes: museum listings, heritage walking tours, maps, events, heritage buildings and attractions, historical plaques and information on barn quilt tours in the area. A digital copy of the guide will also be available for download on

For a copy of the Elgin County Heritage Guide please call (519) 631-1460 ext. 164, email or visit Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism at 450 Sunset Dr. St. Thomas.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Only a Week Left to Register for Growing Your Agri-Business

Elgin County’s Economic Development Department acknowledges the area’s agricultural roots in the latest instalment of the Elgin County Conference Series to be held in mid- November.

Growing Your Agribusiness
is a one-day seminar that will give business owners the opportunity to increase their skills and access tools that will help them successfully run and grow their agribusiness.

Topics presented will include business planning; financial management, succession planning, the SWOTC agri-tourism toolkit, the Greenbelt Ontario (, and personal stories from agribusiness owners. Dynamic presentations will be delivered by speakers ranging from Ministry representatives and professional organizations to successful agribusiness owners.

Growing Your Agribusiness will take place Wednesday, November 21 at the New Sarum Diner. Registration information, agenda and speaker biographies are available at or by phoning 519-631-1460 x 168.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Holiday Events in Elgin & St. Thomas


St. Thomas Sat., November 17th, 6pm
Aylmer Sat., November 24, 2pm
West Lorne Fri., November 30, 7pm
Port Stanley  Fri., November 30, 7pm
Springfield Sat., December 1, 1pm
Rodney Sat., December 1, 5:30pm
Port Burwell Sat., December 1, 6:30pm
Fingal Sun., December 2, 2pm
Belmont Sun., December 2, 6pm
Straffordville  Sat., December 8, 10:30am

Festive Events

11th Annual Aylmer-Malahide Museum Christmas Tour of Homes
November 16 & 17

12 Days of Christmas: A Bank Holiday Extravaganza
November 23 - December 1, The Arts & Cookery Bank, West Lorne

St. Thomas Holiday Fantasy of Lights,

December 1-31, Pinafore Park

Christmas Spirit Walk
December 1,
Springwater Conservation Area, Aylmer

Annual Christmas Carol Sing
December 2, The Old St. Thomas Church

3rd Annual Home for Christmas in West Elgin & Dutton-Dunwich
November 23- December 7

Port Stanley Terminal Rail Santa Treats Trains
November 24 &25, December 1,2,8,9,15,16,22 &23

Christmas Open Houses

Pinecroft Holiday Decorating Workshops
November 13,17,20 & 24

Shelley McVittie's Gallery & Cobblestones - November 10 & 11

Rush Creek Wines - November 10 & 11

Canadale Nurseries -  November 10 & 11

Heritage Line Herbs - November 17 & 18

Horton Farmers Holiday Market  - November 17

Sparta Country Candles - November 24 & 25

Steed & Company Lavender - November 24 & 25

STEPAC Winter Gift Shop Sale  - December 6th

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Remembrance Day Ceremonies in Elgin County

Port Burwell Armistice Day Parade   - November 4th, 2012, 2pm
Parade from the Legion in Port Burwell, westerly on Wellington St., turning left of Robinson St. and left on Pitt St. to Cenotaph.
Contact: 519-874-4308

Dutton Remembrance Day Service - November 9th, 2012, 7pm
Dutton Dunwich Municipal Office/WEDS Theatre
Contact: 519-762-2204

Remembrance Day Service at the Boy Soldier - November 11, 2012, 10:45am
St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, 189 Elm St., St. Thomas

West Lorne Remembrance Day Service - November 11, 2012, 11am
West Lorne Cenotaph, Arena Graham Rd.
Contact: 519-768-2795

Aylmer Remembrance Day Ceremonies - November 11, 2012, 10:30am
Cenotaph, Talbot St.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Chantel Ward Share's Her Camping Experience

As the years have passed, my love for camping seemed to have been leaning more towards a love of "cottaging". But, as the mother of two, I knew my boys needed to experience a true camping trip. Building fires, eating smores, hiking trails, and swimming in the lake.

So instead of the cottage in Muskoka, we hit the Port Burwell Provincial Park Campground.
And let me tell you, it was a FANTASTIC idea!

Beautiful campground - mature trees - friendly people - fun beaches - and as for the hiking trail, it's a good one but I suggest better footwear then my $2 flip flops!

My husband, my sons and I were given the gift of time with each other. We hadn't sat and played cards as a family in...well, I couldn't tell you the last time. I've attached a picture of our youngest son - I think we captured this one right around game #273 of 'Go Fish'. That is joy.
Boy, I am glad we chose to be campers again this Summer.

-Chantel Ward, Port Stanley

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Elgin Arts Trail Celebrates One Year with Award

On Tuesday October 2, the International Economic Development Council presented Elgin County with an award in recognition of its Elgin Arts Trail Discovery Guide at an awards ceremony in Houston, Texas.

"The Elgin Arts Trail program has had an extremely successful first year," said Elgin County Warden Bill Walters. "It is an honour to be recognized amongst our peers at an international level."

In September of 2011 Elgin – St. Thomas Tourism, in partnership with the Elgin Business Resource Centre and the St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre, developed and launched the Elgin Arts Trail to connect the area’s art community. The program seeks to build local awareness of the artists in Elgin and St. Thomas, evoking a sense of community pride and having a positive impact on the community.

The Elgin Arts Trail Discovery Guide takes visitors on a journey to 14 studios and galleries featuring original paintings, sculptures, photography, pottery, and other hand crafted items.

Members of the Elgin Arts Trail met on October 3 at the St. Thomas – Elgin Public Art Centre to celebrate the program’s one year anniversary and international award.

For more information about the Elgin Arts Trail visit or call 1-877-GO-ELGIN ext. 168.

Photo: Elgin Arts Trail members 
Front Row: Kevin Morrell, Paul Smith. Back Row: Laura Woermke, Susan Morrell, Dave Phillips, Brenda Smith, Lucy Ogletree, Grace McGartland, Jenny Phillips.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Savour Elgin Presents ElginLicious!

Savour Elgin is pleased to host the first ever ElginLicious event Oct. 12 -21 2012.

ElginLicious is an opportunity to take advantage of the area’s restaurants, wineries, specialty food shops and agri-tourism destinations at three great price points. Special promotions will be running at $10, $15 and $25 at participating Savour Elgin businesses. ElginLicious is unique to all other "licious" events in that it is not exclusive to just restaurants offering three course menus, but includes culinary experiences of all types.

"This is an opportunity for you and your friends and family to get out and explore all that Elgin County has to offer in the fall," said Savour Elgin Coordinator Kate Burns. "Take a wagon ride, pick a bushel of crisp red apples, get lost in a corn maze, tour a winery, sample some hand-made fudge or fill your belly with a hearty meal made with fresh local ingredients."

See below for a list of participating Savour Elgin locations:

2012 ElginLicious Promotions

Great Lakes Farms
$10Piece of apple pie, a drink, access to the grounds (tractor ride, corn maze, play area) and 2.5lb of pick-your-own apples.

Railways City Brewing $10A 2 person tour and sample with glass promotion.

Farmgate Markets $10Lunch special - deli sandwich, homemade salad, and drink.

Rush Creek Wines $10Tour for 2 people with 3 food pairings and goodie bag plus 2 - $5 gift certificates $20 value(Tours must be booked in advance on regular tour dates.)
Mad Hatters Tea Room
Traditional High Tea $10 (reg. $15).

Steed & Company $10Lavender jam sampler package.

Harbourtown Fudge $15Buy one pound of fudge for $15 (regularly $16) and get a quarter pound free. Over 20 different flavours, featuring our Pumpkin Pie Fudge during the ElginLicious campaign.

Heritage Line Herbs $15Gourmet pizza, a drink, dessert and a blend of your choice - $21.95 value.

Howes Family Farm Market $15Pink, white, orange, flat cinderella pumpkins - 3 pumpkins and 5 squash.

Kettle Creek Inn $15Pork wonton appetizer, lunch special and beverage.

Killer Desserts & Cafe $15Choice of any of our Deli Style Sandwiches, plus a sampling of one of our Homemade Soups, choice of any of our Desserts with Coffee or Tea regular price $24.26.

Pinecroft $15Choice of daily special with a soup tasting, dessert and beverage for $15. Regular value $24.85.

Windjammer Inn $15Lunch - choice of entrée with salad or cup of soup and dessert.

Arts & Cookery Bank $25Lost Arts - Pie Baking Class Oct 16th - check the
website for more information.

Quai du Vin Winery $25A bottle of our Riesling 2011, a bottle of our Merlot 2010, wrapped up, with a corkscrew included, savings of $10.

Windjammer Inn $253 course dinner.

Rubys CookhouseStay tuned for their giveaway.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Share Your Experience Contest Winner

Congratulations to the 'Share Your Experience in Elgin County & St. Thomas' contest winner Lynn Boaz of Ilderton! Her winning submission can be seen below! Make sure to visit this blog over the next several weeks to read some of the other great entries that were received this summer!

Contest Winner: Lynn Boaz, Ilderton
Long summer days, 3 kids at home and nothing to do. Sound familiar? That’s when I hopped in the car and drove down to the Silver Birch Tea Room, a little place east of Aylmer that I had seen advertised in a magazine somewhere. Except for Port Stanley, this was my first trip south of the 401 even though I live only 10 minutes north of London. But I just didn’t think there was much down that way frankly. Boy was I wrong. As soon as we exited the highway the excited started. The landscape was so pretty and activities seemed abundant. Did people really sell apples out of a mini-van sized apple core? What was this place that looked like a ghost town at the side of the road? Was that really an authentic Mexican food store? We pressed on. The tea room took our breath away. Tables nestled in a beautiful garden, complete with waterfall and a tiny rock bridge for girls like mine to dream on. Long grasses blew gently in the wind and the different garden patches (butterfly, Japanese, medicinal) opened up the imaginations of my little ones and created much story telling over lunch. It was amazing. The food was great and the little store on the property allowed for some shopping for me too! I’ll be back, to the tea room, to the Mexican food store and definitely to the "ghost town". As a matter of fact Clovermead is next on my to-do list!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Rush Creek Wines voted Best of Lake Erie

Elgin County winery Rush Creek Wines has been voted Lake Erie Living Magazine’s "2012 Best of Lake Erie" in the Specialty Wines category.

Readers, editors and writers of the magazine were encouraged to vote for the best wineries along Lake Erie on both the Canadian and American sides and Rush Creek Wines was chosen as the winner out of hundreds of locations.

Owners Kim and Wendy Flintoft opened the winery on Jamestown Line in 1996 and their unique varieties of fruit wine have been delighting visitors for nearly two decades. Rockin’ Raspberry and Strawberry Chocolate Decadence are two of Rush Creek’s most popular flavours.

"Kim and I are honoured to be recognized on both the Canadian and American sides of Lake Erie," said owner Wendy Flintoft. "We have worked very hard to create a quality winery and a place you can bring your family and enjoy a great experience."

The winery is open Monday to Saturday and features a corn maze, a Bruschetta bar, and a picnic area where guests can use an on-site BBQ to prepare their lunch. The winery is also home to an English garden where visitors can sit back and relax with a glass of wine.

For more information about Rush Creek Wines or the 2012 Best of Lake Erie Award please contact Wendy Flintoft at 519-773-5432 or email

Rush Creek owners Wendy & Kim Flintoft

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Elgin County - Come for a visit , stay for a lifetime!

Life in Elgin County's vibrant communities is thriving!

Located along Lake Erie’s north shore, Elgin County’s fresh air, tranquility and abundant access to the natural environment will enchant you. Hike or bike over 100kms of scenic trails, get back to nature at a peaceful campground or play a round at one of Elgin’s nationally renowned golf courses.
With 120 km of Lake Erie shoreline, Elgin County is the perfect summer playground with sandy beaches for sunbathing, swimming, boating and fishing. Discover the area’s rich cultural heritage, enjoy top level theatrical productions or experience the vibrant local arts community.

While in the area make sure to sample Elgin’s culinary delights- many restaurants showcase award-winning chefs and feature fresh local produce and wines from local vineyards.

Idyllic rural landscapes, charming towns and villages, as well as waterfront living make life in Elgin County the ideal alternative to the hustle and bustle of city life. High speed internet, proximity to major highways and a short drive to major urban centres gives Elgin County all the advantages of the "big city" without all the hassle. Elgin residents enjoy an exemplary lifestyle with access to fresh local products, low tax rates and housing costs that are well below the national average.

To learn more about the pristine natural beauty and quality lifestyle in Elgin County call
 (519) 631-1460 ext. 180 or visit

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Canada Day Weekend in Elgin County!

It's time again to celebrate the birthday of our great country! Communities across Elgin County are getting into the spirit this Canada Day long weekend! check out the links and listings below for everything going on in Elgin County this weekend!

Municipal Canada Day Celebrations

Canada Day Celebrations in Port Burwell

Enjoy a parade at 1pm followed by a flag raising ceremony, music, entertainment, children's activities and cake cutting. Visit the Marine Museum and Historic Lighthouse.

Annual Canada Day Celebrations in Aylmer

Family fun for everyone! Fireworks, children's activities etc. Please see website for more details!
5pm - dusk at the East Elgin Community Complex.

Town of Aylmer 125th Anniversary Celebrations

Celebrate the Town of Aylmer's 125th Anniversary this weekend with free concerts, children's activities, heritage tours, BBQ's, picnics and more! Thurs June 28th - July1st.

125th Anniversary Schedule

Port Stanley CANFEST

A Canada Day Celebration featuring live music, boat parade, fireworks, Port Perch Plate, Veterans parade and cake cutting. See website for more details!

Canada Day Celebrations in St. Thomas

The City of St. Thomas is hosting a spectacular fireworks display at 10pm. Food, Fun and Family entertainment! DJ Tarry Complex.

Canada Day in Dutton

Enjoy fun activities throughout the day! Free swim, volunteer awards, opening ceremonies, musical entertainment, kids activities, fireworks at dusk. 12pm - dusk at Sons of Scotland Park, Dutton.

Canada Day Celebrations in West Lorne

1pm Kids Country Carnival and other activities, 5pm fish fry; 7pm opening ceremonies, baseball game, Snake Lady show, 9:30pm fireworks. Miller Park, West Lorne.

Other Events this Weekend!

Port Stanley Art Association Show

An art show displaying works from members of the Port Stanley Art Association.

CANFEST Weekend at the Art Emporium

Visit the Art Emporium during Port Stanley's CANFEST Celebrations. Featuring 29 Regional Artists. 177 Main St. Port Stanley.

Saturday Afternoons with the Beekeeper -Clovermead Apiaries

Spend 30 or so minutes with the beekeeper and see a beehive opened up for you personally! Reserve a spot online or just take a chance and show up! $10/pp

Music in the Park

Free musical entertainment every Sunday evening in July at Pinafore Park. Showcasing local talent in folk, country, and easy listening. 7pm.

Canada Day BBQ and 1/2 Price Herb Sale

Celebrate Canada Day with a bbq lunch by the waterfalls. Visit website for menu. 4" herbs are half price for the day.

Show & Shine in the Shade

Cash prizes, great prize table, breakfast, Van Car Show. Sponsored by the Optimist Club of West Lorne. 8:00am registration on July 1st. Miller Park West Lorne.


Pinecroft Summer Concert Series

Join the Jammin' in the Cabin Band and several special musical guests for a free concert at Pinecroft on Monday July 2nd 1pm-5pm!

For more event listings visit

Monday, 11 June 2012

Elgin County Conference to Focus on E-marketing


Elgin County Economic Development will focus on online marketing in the latest installment of the Elgin County Conference Series to be held in late June.

"In order to be successful in today's competitive environment, businesses must master the latest technologies, " said Alan Smith General Manager of Economic Development for the County. "This seminar will give Elgin County businesses an opportunity to increase web recognition and to develop professional e-marketing skills."

Elgin County’s E-Marketing Conference is a one-day seminar connecting small businesses to the web through websites, social media, and more. Topics presented will include: the basics of getting online, maintaining a web presence, social media, e-newsletters, online advertising and how to make a website profitable. Engaging presentations will be delivered by speakers ranging from successful business owners to e-marketing specialists.

E-Marketing will take place on Wednesday, June 27th at the Wharf Restaurant in Port Stanley. The total cost of the conference is $30 and includes breakfast and lunch.

For more information on speakers and topics, visit or register by calling 519-631-1460 ext 168 or e-mailing

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Tourism Season Kicks Off in Elgin County!

Tourism season has officially begun and Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism’s four tourism kiosks are now open for the season.

Each summer Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism staffs four kiosks across Elgin County that provide residents and visitors with tourism information, maps, guides and other promotional materials from area attractions. Staff of the kiosks also attend several local events throughout the summer to distribute these materials.

The kiosks open on the Victoria Day long weekend in May and remain open until Labour Day weekend in September.

"There are an abundance of local events and quality attractions in our area." said Tourism Development Coordinator, Kathryn Russell. "Summer has arrived and it is time to get out there and explore what Elgin has to offer!"

The kiosks are located in the Port Stanley Festival Theatre building, at the historic Port Burwell Lighthouse, at the Jumbo the Elephant monument in St. Thomas and at the Backus-Page House Museum in Wallacetown.

For more information about the kiosk locations call (519) 631-1460 ext. 164, email, or visit

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Rural Roots Public Market to Open in Dutton

Elgin County Economic Development is pleased to announce the opening of Rural Roots Public Market in Dutton.

The market will open for the season on Saturday May 26th, 2012 from 8:30 am – 1:30 pm and will be held at the Dutton Community Centre Pavilion. After the opening, the market will be open;

Sunday June 10th
Sunday June 24th
Sunday July 8th
Sunday July 22nd
Sunday August 4th
Sunday August 18th

The Rural Roots Public Market will offer baked goods and pies, embroidery, craft wares, wood working, artwork, handmade jewellery, and fresh local produce.

The mastermind behind the market is 22 year old Kate Campigotto, a recent graduate of Western University and a lifetime resident of Dutton. Upon graduation Campigotto decided a local market would help to revitalize the area by supporting the local business community. In addition to organizing the market Campigotto will be a vendor herself selling baked goods with her 17 year old sister Meaghan under the name Red’s Baking (aptly named for the sisters’ red hair).

"Supporting local has to start locally." said Campigotto. "This is a great opportunity for our communities to come together, support local businesses and celebrate what our small towns have to offer."

For more information regarding the Rural Roots Public Market, or to become a vendor please call (519)762-2944 or email

Friday, 27 April 2012

Art Emporium Opens in Port Stanley

Elgin County Economic Development is pleased to announce the grand opening gala of the Art Emporium in Port Stanley.

The opening reception will be held on Friday May 4th from 7 pm - 9 pm and will include a meet and greet with the artists, refreshments and a musical performance by renowned southwestern Ontario Jazz musician David Jolly. The celebration will continue throughout the weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 11 am – 5 pm.

The Art Emporium is owned and operated by artists themselves. The five members on the board of directors act as responsible members of the art community by giving their 27 member artists input in all decisions made at the gallery. The Art Emporium has also recently joined Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism’s Elgin Arts Trail program.

Located at 177 Main St., Port Stanley, the facility consists of two unique sections: The Boathouse Gallery and the Gift Boutique. The Boathouse Gallery is a bright and spacious area with a beachfront view. It houses the original fine art of over 30 area artists. The Gift Boutique sells a variety of handcrafted items on consignment from regional artisans featuring works in glass, wood, fabric, and prints.

"Port Stanley has always been a great hub for artists," said co-owner Robin Baratta. "The Art Emporium will help Port Stanley to establish itself as a leading art tourism destination."

For more information regarding the Art Emporium please call (519) 226-658-1888 or visit

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Elgin County at the Aylmer Home & Garden Show!

Come and visit Elgin County Economic Development at the Aylmer Home & Garden Show this weekend!

The show will feature displays and seminars from local organizations on landscaping, staging your home, DIY tips, renovations, real estate and more! Attendees can look forward to free swag bags at the door, hourly door prizes and face painting for the kids! The show will run from Friday April 13th-Sunday April 15th at the East Elgin Community Complex. The cost to attend is $5 per person or $20 per family.

Elgin County Economic Development will be on hand to promote Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism programs, Economic Development services and the services of Elgin County’s partners, in particular those of the Elgin Business Resource Centre (EBRC). With funding from Elgin County, the EBRC has opened an office in the town of Aylmer.

For more information about the Aylmer Home & Garden Show visit or call Elaine (519) 773-3445.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Elgin-St. Thomas Tour Guide Promotes Local Treasures

Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism is pleased to announce that free copies of the 2012 Experience Elgin-St. Thomas Tour Guide are now available.

This guide includes not only a comprehensive listing of tourism operations in Elgin and St. Thomas but also an extensive event listing section. The guide encourages locals to take time to explore the treasures in their own backyards. Elgin-St. Thomas offers an array of entertainment and recreational activities for individuals and families alike.

"The area is home to some of the finest stretches of sandy beach on Lake Erie, to unique Carolinian forests, quality live theatre performances, heritage sites and a variety of culinary delights," said Tourism Development Coordinator, Kathryn Russell.

For a copy of the official Elgin-St. Thomas tour guide please call (519) 631-1460 ext. 164, email or visit Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism at 450 Sunset Dr. St. Thomas.

A virtual copy of the guide is also available here.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Rural Summer Jobs Service

The 2012 Ontario Rural Summer Jobs Service is now accepting applications from eligible employers who plan to create summer jobs for rural youth. Eligible businesses and community organizations in rural Ontario can receive a hiring incentive of $2 per hour to create student employment.
The application deadline is April 16, 2012.
Please visit this link for more information:

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Tomorrow the Ontario’s Southwest train will leave the station ….

On March 14th and 15th tourism owners and operators in Ontario’s Southwest will gather at the Canada Southern Railway Station in St. Thomas for the Ontario’s Southwest Spring Launch.

To kick things off, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Chan will paint the big picture of tourism in the province. Next will be an update on tourism in Ontario and Ontario’s Southwest by Executive Director Jim Hudson. Delegates will then hear from destination development expert and key note speaker Roger Brooks, CEO/President of Destination Development International.

Day 2 will be "Breakout Education Day". Delegates can choose from sessions as: Embracing the Social Web, Being Group Ready, Turning the War of 1812 into Dollars Today, Accessibility and Building a Service Culture.

Ending the conference with a bang will be the launch of a new consumer website and announcement of a new strategic direction for the region. This strategy will outline the marketing, workforce development, product development and investment attraction priorities for the next year.

The overall theme is: Regional tourism is about sharing ideas, best practices and linking ourselves together. That will be the future of tourism. When people ask about the future of tourism, we say "Tourism IS the future!"

The Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation is the Regional Tourism Organization for Ontario’s Southwest. It brings regional tourism into the hands of the private sector. With a goal to double tourism by 2020, it will build cohesion as a regional team. Ontario’s Southwest consists of nine areas and it is estimated that 13.4 million visitors spend $1.3 billion annually.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Straffordville Watermelon Fest earns double recognition

On March 5th, Festivals & Events Ontario (FEO) recognized Straffordville Watermelon Fest as one of the 2012 Top Festivals and Events in Ontario and presented them with a 2012 Festivals & Events Achievement Award for Most Innovative Partnership with the Municipality of Bayham.

"We are delighted that Straffordville Watermelon Fest has been recognized by Festivals & Events Ontario." said event organizer Pauline Schram. "We’re just a fun-filled event providing entertainment for the community and loving every minute of it!"

In 2012 Watermelon Fest will celebrate its 15th anniversary. The event includes a parade, children’s activities, local musical entertainment, a watermelon eating contest and a popular watermelon seed spitting contest. This not-for-profit event has no admission cost and is made possible through a partnership between a group of dedicated local volunteers and the Municipality of Bayham.

"It is an outstanding achievement for a festival to make the Top 100 Festivals and Events in Ontario." said Bayham Mayor Paul Ens. "This partnership is successful as a result of community support, innovate ideas and volunteer efforts and will benefit the community by attracting visitors to the area."

Festivals and Events are an important part of Elgin County’s vibrant cultural history and contribute to a thriving economy. For more information about Straffordville Watermelon Fest call The Municipality of Bayham at (519) 866-5521 or visit

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Elgin County Conference Series shines the light on solar power

Elgin County’s Economic Development Department will focus on solar power in the latest installment of the Elgin County Conference Series to be held in late March.

The Power of Solar is a one-day seminar that will give home, business, and farm owners the opportunity to learn more about harnessing the power of the sun through solar panels. Topics presented will include: grid connection, the Feed in Tariff program (FIT), success tips for your solar project, and solar for your business, home, and farm. Dynamic presentations will be delivered by speakers ranging from successful solar operators to industry professionals.

"Elgin County is poised to be a leader in solar renewable energy projects with the help of our strong labour market and our vast land resources,"said Alan Smith, General Manager of Economic Development for the County. "This conference will educate Elgin County residents about how to become a part of this growing and profitable industry."

The Power of Solar will take place on Wednesday, March 28th at the New Sarum Diner. Registration information, agenda and speaker biographies are available at or by phoning 519-631-1460 x 168.

Friday, 24 February 2012

New Bed and Breakfast Opens in Aylmer!

Elgin County is pleased to announce the grand opening of Sweet Magnolia House Bed & Breakfast in Aylmer.
The grand opening will be held on Saturday March 3rd from 1 pm-4 pm and will include a wine and cheese reception, the chance to win a one-night stay, and tours of the facility.

Owner Brenda Lawson, a retired nurse from Newmarket, moved to the area to be closer to family and to experience the tranquility of small town life. She soon fell in love with the 1870 heritage home located at 236 Talbot St. East, and with the gorgeous Magnolia tree in the front yard.

Fulfilling her life long dream of opening a bed and breakfast, Lawson spent six months restoring the home while maintaining its original integrity. The Sweet Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast boasts three tastefully decorated suites and offers guests the option of a continental breakfast or a heartier home- cooked meal made with locally sourced ingredients.

Lawson encourages others to pursue their goals of opening a small business saying, "If you believe in your dreams they will come true."

"Increasing the length of time visitors stay in our area, and thus the amount of money they spend, will generate significant economic benefits for Elgin County and St. Thomas," said Economic Development General Manager Alan Smith. "Sweet Magnolia House will encourage longer stays by offering visitors attractive and comfortable accommodations."

For more information regarding the Sweet Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast please call (519) 765-3038 or visit

Sweet Magnolia House, 236 Talbot St. East, Aylmer ON

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Elgin Tourism Exhibits at the London Boat, Fishing and Leisure Show

Each year over 20,000 people attend the London Boat Fishing & Leisure show to see the latest and greatest in the worlds of boating, fishing and leisure. This year Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism will participate in the show to promote their Ports of Elgin Campaign.

Elgin County is home to over 120km of breathtaking Lake Erie shoreline and four ports: Port Glasgow, Port Stanley, Port Bruce and Port Burwell. Whether visitors enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy portside village, or a more tranquil atmosphere, Elgin County's four Ports have something to please everyone. Visitors can take in the sun, surf and sand at some of the best stretches of sandy beach along Lake Erie's North shore, take a ride on a tourist railway or chartered sailboat, visit the theatre, hike the trails at Port Burwell Provincial Park, spend an afternoon on the golf course or shop in numerous stylish boutiques.

The show runs from February 24th-26th at the Western Fair Progress Building.

Boaters in Port Glasgow, Elgin County

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

McGartland Wins County Award

Elgin County is pleased to announce that Grace McGartland, Chair of the Arts & Cookery Bank, is Elgin County's Ambassador of the Year for 2011. 

Elgin County Ambassadors are people who volunteer their time to help promote business throughout Elgin County and actively participate in the growth and development of the County. The Ambassador of the Year is awarded based on points that are given to ambassadors for a variety of items including attendance at quarterly meetings, recruiting new members, promoting Elgin County at events, and informing Economic Development staff about new business in the area.

McGartland has represented the County at numerous events over the past year, has spoken about Elgin’s Creative Economy at several conferences and organized the Western Elgin Interactive Showcase in October 2011. She sits on the County of Elgin’s Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee and represents Elgin County on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation.

"We would like to thank Grace for her commitment, creativity and enthusiasm," said Elgin County Warden Bill Walters. "Her involvement and contribution has been an immeasurable asset to our Economic Development program."

The Elgin County Ambassador program is open to entrepreneurs, business owners and community leaders. For more information on the program please call 519-631-1460 ext. 168 or email

Friday, 3 February 2012

Elgin County Earns Provincial Nod!

The Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) on February 2nd, presented Elgin County with two awards in recognition of its Economic Development Strategy and Action plan for 2011-2014, and its Elgin Arts Trail website promoting visual arts attractions throughout the County.

"We are pleased and proud of the Economic Development Strategy and Elgin Arts Trail website." said Elgin County Warden Bill Walters. "They are testaments to the great work done by the Economic Development and Tourism Services Department in the growth and support of the business community in the County."

Elgin County’s Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan for 2011-2014, developed in conjunction with marketing firms Millier Dickenson Blais and Yfactor, is a four-year strategy that builds on the County’s identified economic strengths and provides a new direction in the context of the creative rural economy. Developing talent and innovation is the basis for this strategy that focuses on creative people and knowledge as economic generators.

Recognizing the potential of arts as a driver of tourism, Elgin County Economic Development in partnership with the Elgin Business Resource Centre and the St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre developed and launched an Arts Trail to connect artists, artisans, and art galleries throughout the County and the city of St. Thomas. The Elgin Arts Trail website invites tourists as well as residents to visit these attractions and features each member of the Elgin Arts Trail program. The site also incorporates the interactive Tourism Ytool which makes it easy for website visitors to find out about events, restaurants or hotels and to quickly create individual itineraries for their upcoming visit to Elgin County and St. Thomas. Interactive maps make locating the destinations effortless for prospective tourists.

Visit to see the Elgin County Economic Development Strategy and visit to get more information about Elgin’s vibrant arts community!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Elgin Business Resource Centre Satellite Office to Open in Aylmer

The County of Elgin will fully fund a one-year pilot project to operate a satellite office of the Elgin Business Resource Centre (EBRC). The office will be located at the Elgin Innovation Centre in Aylmer, and will service eastern Elgin County.

The EBRC is a community based- not-for-profit organization that supports local business communities and encourages entrepreneurship and economic growth through access to capital, business services and project support.

 “The EBRC satellite office will be dedicated to helping business owners and entrepreneurs succeed in today’s ever-changing business market,” said Mike Streib, President of EBRC. “The satellite office will offer assistance to those looking to open a business, formulate a business plan, or make changes to an existing business.”

The County of Elgin has partnered successfully with the EBRC in the past on several initiatives including the Elgin St. Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC), the Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs (ICE), and the Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP).

“It is of particular importance in these challenging economic times that the County continues to undertake programs and initiatives to support and cultivate local business development and entrepreneurship,” said Elgin County Warden Bill Walters. “This is another example of the County’s Economic Development department forming partnerships that will enhance economic growth.”

There is a strong demand for the services that the EBRC provides for Elgin County residents. By supporting the development of an EBRC satellite office in Aylmer, the County will ensure that new and existing business in the County will have greater access to support services to help them thrive and grow. The Elgin Innovation Centre offers an advantageous location, ample space and a variety of amenities needed for the new office.

“The Elgin Innovation Centre is pleased to be the new home of the EBRC office in Aylmer.  Their presence will help grow local businesses and promote innovation in the area,” said Jack Baribeau, co-owner of the Elgin Innovation Centre.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Look for Elgin County's Commercial on TV!

Elgin County Economic Development is pleased to announce that we have created a television commercial that will be airing on several stations in January 2012. The ad showcases Elgin County’s pristine natural beauty and promotes Elgin as a great place to start a business and raise a family. The 30 second spot will air during City TV’s Breakfast Television January 9th-13th, CHCH Hamilton’s Evening News at 6 January 16th-20th, and CTV London’s News at 6 January 23rd-27th.

The commercial can also be viewed online on our YouTube Channel.