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Economic Development eNews | March 21, 2023

Business Profile

Top feature photo: Robert McEwen at the main entrance of his sugar house in the woods off Briton Houghton Bay Road, overlooking Big Rideau Lake.

Above photo: Robert in the sap concentration by reverse osmosis area. The tanks can hold up to 3,400 gallons of sap. Below: Robert with his wife Bo Liu and their dog Mica.

McEwen Acres Maple

Has the Sweetest History

PORTLAND - Enjoying the great outdoors never gets old for maple syrup producer and wholesaler Robert McEwen.

Five generations of the McEwen family have farmed on a picturesque point overlooking Big Rideau Lake dating back to the 1850s. Robert carries on the family's farming tradition and love of the land producing certified organic maple syrup at McEwen Acres Maple Farm.

"We grew up with maple syrup," says Robert, recalling how he and his brother once boiled a batch of sap on their mother's stove. Back in those days, syrup was tapped the old-fashioned way with dairy being the main focus of the farm.

Today syrup is the mainstay. Robert has 3,600 taps with two pumping stations and expansion plans are in the works. A majority of his syrup is sold wholesale to about a dozen local producers. About 5% is sold online or from the family farm.

The Sugar House, the fourth to be built on the property, was erected in 2019 using the newest in high efficiency construction and equipment. The 2,800-square-foot facility was designed by Robert, a retired National Research Council engineer. He uses a vacuum and temperature computer monitoring system. Altogether, he taps just under 100 acres of the 500-acre McEwen farm.

"It will be passed on to the next generation as well," Robert says of the operation, noting his niece and family help him and plan to take it over some day.

For the past 5 years, McEwen Acres Maple has produced certified organic maple syrup. Robert uses sustainable tapping methods and maintains the biodiversity of the forest. Being organic also means that no harsh chemicals are used in cleaning equipment and that there is complete accountability and traceability of all the syrup produced.

"I want to leave the land better than it was when I accepted it," says Robert. "I just love making maple syrup. It's really nice to live in harmony with nature and be sustainable."

McEwen Acres is one of the nearly 70 producers from 11 Ontario districts featured at the upcoming 7th annual Maple Weekend, April 1 and 2. It is hosted by the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association. Maple Weekend returns after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

To learn more about McEwen Acres Maple visit their website, see their Facebook and Instagram pages, and send them an email. They are located at 4767 Briton-Houghton Bay Road.

Celebrating Business

Wendy Banks earns Lifetime Achievement Award

Local farm-to-table food champion Wendy Banks is the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

The owner of Wendy’s Country Market & Furnace Falls Farm received the award at the International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration at the Brockville Memorial Centre on March 8th. She is the 10th recipient of the esteemed award presented by the Leeds Grenville Small Business Centre.


“My favourite thing is I have been able to work with family all of these years,” Wendy said in accepting the award. She noted it has been their multi-generational “team heart” working together to create a lasting community hub focused on the importance of farming and bringing people together. Her daughter, Leigha Warneke, is very involved.

"Leigha has a career of her own but is an integral part of our family businesses," she said.


“This is an important annual award and event bringing dynamic women leaders together,” said Leeds Grenville Warden Nancy Peckford. More than 100 attended the sold-out celebration with the theme #EmbraceEquity.

Top photo: Wendy Banks, at right, with her daughter Leigha Warneke. Above photo: Wendy with Leeds Grenville Small Business representatives Jeanette Johnston, left, and Carol Hardy, right.

Wendy opened her Country Market on Fortune Line Road in 2008, carrying on the family tradition of farming businesses. Her parents, Neil and Gale Banks (Corn Acre Farms), have been farming in the area for over 60 years.

Wendy is a sixth-generation farmer, selling produce, meat, frozen entrees, artisan cheese, crafts and so much more. Her shop features her own farm products along with those of 70 area producers. More recently, she launched Furnace Falls, a working farm, B&B retreat and barn rental venue next door to her market on Old Briar Hill Road in the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands. 


Merrickville Preparatory School in World's Top 10


MERRICKVILLE - Merrick Preparatory School has been awarded on the first-ever published Fortune List of the World's Leading Boarding Schools 2023. It was also named one of the World's Leading Boarding Schools in Canada.

These prestigious awards are presented by Fortune and Statista Inc., world-leading industry-ranking providers and statistics portal. Fortune and K12 Digest have also featured Merrick Preparatory School (MPS) as one of 10 Prominent Boarding Schools to Watch in 2023. Only 2 Canadian boarding schools made the list.


A total of 17 Canadian boarding schools made the list with Merrick Preparatory School at No. 9 and the only non-CAIS (Canadian Accredited Independent Schools) school on the list.

See the school's media release.

Watch the video

Digital Services

Business Owners Value Digital Specialist Support


An information session with a Digital Specialist can be the catalyst to moving your business forward. Specialists can help with de-mystifying the options available to boost your business's technology. They assist you in finding the most efficient and cost effective tech-based methods to access new customers.

Each business has their unique approach to the customer journey. The helpful ears, eyes and experience of the Digital Specialist can bring a fresh perspective, helping you to feel comfortable and confident in what you have learned along the way.

Digital Services Local Business Spotlight: Esthetics By Marion

Check out this video and hear from Digital Main Street participant Marion, of Esthetics by Marion, on how the Digital Main Street programs have impacted her business in Tincap.

See for yourself how helpful these digital support programs can be to your business. Connect with your Digital Specialist and get help solving your digital problems today. Visit the Leeds Grenville website, book a free consultation, call 613-342-3840 x 5368 or email Cyndy Bolton.

Connect with us now

Upcoming Events

Augusta Township's Mayor's Breakfast Open to Public

Augusta Township is hosting its annual Mayor's Breakfast with keynote speaker Sueling Ching, President and CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade. She will be speaking on "Planning for Success."

WHEN: Friday, March 31, Networking 7:30 a.m.; Breakfast 8 a.m. Speaker 8:30 a.m.

WHERE: MERC Hall, 120 East McLean Boulevard, Maitland

COST: $15 (Pre-registration and payment is required by Monday, March 27 via debit, cash or cheque at the township office or eTransfer to [email protected] with a note the payment is for the Mayor's Breakfast)

For more information contact Annette at [email protected] or call 613-925-4231, ext. 105.

Front of Yonge Township Hosting Business Awards

The Front of Yonge Township Community Development Committee is once again honouring local businesses within their municipality. The Categories are New Business of the Year/Entrepreneur (in operation less than 5 years at time of nomination); and Business of the Year (in operation at least 5 years at time of nomination). Nominations are now closed.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 12, 7:30 a.m. registration; 8 a.m. breakfast; 8:30 a.m. Guest speaker and award presentations

WHERE: Mallorytown Legion Branch 484, 13 Quabbin Road, Mallorytown,

COST: $13

To register

Top Business Awards Being Presented in Rideau Lakes

The Rideau Lakes Economic Development Committee is celebrating local businesses and recognizing their contributions to the community at the upcoming breakfast event.

There will be presentations for Business of the Year Award (recognizes a business operating within the Township that has demonstrated a commitment to the community and its residents);the Business Innovation Award (acknowledges a business that demonstrates innovation in enhancing its business and services); the Young Entrepreneur Award (honours the hard work demonstrated by a young entrepreneur (under 35) who either resides, operates an active business, or grew up primarily in the Township).

WHEN: Friday, April 14, 7:30 a.m. registration; 8-10 a.m. Breakfast, followed by presentations

WHERE: Newboro Community Hall, 15 Drummond Street, Newboro

COST: Free

To register

Summer Company

Applications for Summer 2023

Be your own boss! Summer Company provides hands-on business training and mentoring in addition to a grant of $3,000 to help enterprising students (ages 15-29) start-up and run their own summer business.

Students gain insight into business creation and risk taking; practical experience in marketing, financial management, sales and customer service; and attitudes and skills essential for personal success, whatever their chosen career paths are.

Where are you starting your business?

Contact these representatives according to where you live in Leeds Grenville:

Residents of Gananoque and Leeds and the Thousand Islands, Mallorytown and Front of Yonge Township, the Township of Athens, Frankville and south section of Elizabeth-Kitley Township, Town of Prescott, Township of Augusta, Township of Edwardsburgh Cardinal, Kemptville and Municipality of North Grenville:

Email: [email protected]

Visit the Website

Residents of northern Leeds Grenville - Merrickville-Wolford Township, Rideau Lakes Township, Village of Westport and the upper part of Elizabethtown-Kitley.

Email: [email protected]

Visit the Website
Workshops, Seminars and Webinar Library

Volunteer Management - Best Practices

This workshop is hosted by RTO 9, North Grenville Tourism and CSE Consulting with speaker Carey McMaster providing a hands-on learning day. Registration for the in-person portion of this event includes a hardcopy workbook, continental breakfast and lunch. The in-person event is limited to 30 participants. Only one delegate from each organization is suggested. There is an online ticket option provided in conjunction with the in-person event for those who are unable to attend.

WHEN: Friday, March 24, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WHERE: North Grenville Municipal Centre, 285 County Road 44, Kemptville, or via Zoom

COST: Free

To register

Creating an Online Brand: Content Marketing 101

Content marketing is more than just a viral post. It’s a valuable asset that reinforces trust, authority, and relationships among your audience. But how do you do it effectively? And perhaps more importantly, where do you start? Join RTO 9 and the team from Alphabet Creative as they introduce the basics of content marketing: what is it, why is it important, and how you can optimize it for your business

WHEN: Wednesday, March 29, 10-11 a.m. online

COST: Free

Learn more or register

Road Map to Simple Safety Solutions (WSIB/WSPS)

The Workforce Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is offering increased financial rebates to smaller businesses (1-99 employees) through the Health and Safety Excellence program to support post-pandemic recovery. Join in as a review of how joining the WSIB’s Health and Safety Excellence program can help offset costs of implementing new health and safety topics in your workplace and how to calculate your potential double rebate for 2023. This webinar will focus on the various health and safety needs of small-medium businesses in Ontario. You’ll walk away with information on health and safety basics such as employee rights and employer responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the available free resources offered to small business by the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS). A Q+A period will follow the session and give you a chance to ask any important questions related to health and safety.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 5, 12-1 p.m.

COST: Free

To register

Canadian Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) Grant Information Session


Are you looking to create an online shop or expand what you have? The $2400 CDAP grant is currently being offered to assist both small- and medium-sized businesses in scaling their e-commerce presence. Join our Leeds Grenville Digital Specialist for a live info session on eligibility, costs covered and program details. Qualifying expenses include tools and skills to help increase sales, improve security, grow customer lists, refine social media marketing and expand user experience for your online customers.

Sign up for this session to be guided through starting your application in real time.


WHEN: Thursday, March 30, 1 p.m. Via Zoom

COST: Free


Email Cyndy to register for the session and receive the zoom link. 

Threat Reaction Plans: Free cybersecurity resources for Canadian retailers

Cybercrime is on the rise across the country and could affect the day-to-day operations of your business. Being sensitive to cybersecurity issues means being mindful of various aspects of cybersecurity in the day-to-day management of retail operations. The dangers of browsing the web, processing payments, checking emails, and interacting online are all elements of cybersecurity awareness. As a retail industry leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that all of your employees view cybersecurity as an essential part of their job.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 5, 1 p.m. (online)

COST: Free

To register 

See also:

Leeds Grenville eNews Deadlines for submitting information:

If you have an upcoming workshop, seminar, or business-related event, please email it to us in advance.

  • Submissions for the April 4th edition should be received by Monday, March 27th.
  • Submissions for the April 18th edition should be received by Tuesday, April 11th.
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Ann Weir
Economic Development Manager
Deanna Clark
Economic Development Officer
Joanne Poll
Administration / Communications Support
Shelbi McFarlane
Business Development Officer

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