Communiqué for NOTL Ambassadors and our Partners!

JUNE-JULY 2024 - "It's Summer!" EDITION


Hello Ambassadors!!
From Your Co-Leads: Laurie Harley & Vlad Haltigin
Thank you for continuing to make our season so successful!!

Where did the spring go!

It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming returning Ambassadors and completing orientation for our new volunteers. Since then, you’ve signed up for 169 shifts, visited 20 community sites, and engaged with over 2,700 visitors from 42 countries.

We hope you’ve learned a lot about our amazing Town, developed stories from your experiences that you can share with visitors, and, of course, had fun along the way.

What’s more, 2024 is turning out to be the YEAR of the NOTL AMBASSADOR!

Who would have imagined that one of your Co-Leads would be named Citizen of the Year in February and then receive a Paul Harris Award from NOTL Rotary in June - all in recognition of the contributions made by our outstanding Team of volunteers.

So hats off to the NOTL Ambassadors! You’re the true award winners!

Our leadership team is available, supporting you as you take to the streets. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if there is anything we can do to support you or to make the program better! The best way to do this? Send us an email either directly or via MAP.

See you “on the street”!

Laurie and Vlad

Tourism NOTL - What's New?

Introducing Shelley McGoldrick

We are thrilled to welcome Shelley to the Tourism NOTL Team!

Shelley grew up in Toronto and studied Art at the University of Guelph and moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2010. Shelley joins us from Peller Estates Winery, where she was Concierge, greeting guests and creating itineraries for them. Shelley loves to walk along Queen Street, enjoys the beautiful flowers and loves to shop the boutiques. In her spare time, Shelley likes to knit hats and participate in craft shows; she also enjoys cuddling her two lovely cats named Smudge and Daisy. We are so pleased that Shelley has joined our team!

Introducing Maia Aqui!

We are also thrilled to Introduce Maia Aqui!

Maia is our summer student working in the Tourism office throughout the summer! Maia was born and raised in the Caribbean, but spent most of her summers growing up in Ontario. After many visits to Niagara-on-the-Lake, her family decided to move here in 2021. 

Maia moved to Canada permanently in 2022 to begin attending Western University and is now heading into her third year studying media and communications. Her favorite thing to do in town is walk her German Shepherd “Wolfe” along the waterfront!! If you see them, please say hi! Maia is so excited to be part of the NOTL Tourism team and we are thrilled to welcome Maia for the summer! 

Notes from the Office - Update from Mandy - Our Ambassador "Link"

It has been a busy month in the office! Tourists are flocking to our beautiful town now that summer is here! We have had some unfortunate incidents recently, where on three separate occasions a visitor has tripped and fallen needing care. We assisted where necessary and let them know where the Niagara Falls hospital is, as well as the nearest walk-in clinic.

This reminded me to let you know that there is a really good first-aid kit, located on the floor of the Ambassador Alcove in the corner, should you need band aids, bandages or any other items in an emergency while you are on shift!

A miracle happened last week!! Two lovely young teenage girls came in to say they were from Toronto and were here the week before and had lost their cell phone. They said it was a long shot but they thought they would check to see if anyone had handed one in. I asked them to describe it and they said it was a purple case with butterflies on it.

With a smile, I opened my drawer and handed it to them. Well, you would think I had given them the moon!! They were so thrilled and started jumping up and down and hugging each other - both laughing and crying at the same time! Just another day in the office - but it made my day to see them so happy!

Stairway to Heaven??

Some of the Ambassadors will remember this story from last week. I was walking along the pathway to see the Kiosk Ambassadors, and saw two men right at the top of the fire escape stairs trying to get into the door at the very top of the building! I asked if I could help them, and they said they were following the sign for the washroom, as they pointed to the arrow on the sign. Yes, indeed, it does point upwards! It actually means "keep going along the path", but when you look at it, it does seem to point up the stairs! Our signage clearly needs some work and I am pleased to say that the Town is looking at improving the signage for the building.


What's Happening in Town??

This new section of the Beat will shine a spotlight on upcoming events that Ambassadors can keep top of mind while greeting our visitors. 

Many of our Ambassadors have enjoyed the walking tours hosted by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum! Just a reminder, that these wonderful walking tours are available every Saturday and Sunday at 11 am.  All that is required is to meet at the gazebo at Queens Royal Park and purchase a ticket ($10) at the meeting location, which also gives admission to the museum!! What a deal!!!  

Sarah Kaufman, the Museum's Managing Director/Curator is passionate about why our Museum is a vital part of our historic Town and so important for us as residents, and for visitors.

The current exhibit showcases many historic NOTL homes.  “One of the reasons we chose an exhibit on the amazing heritage homes in Niagara-on-the Lake, is that they are not only part of our heritage landscape, but also a major part of our tourism economy.”  Kaufman said the new exhibit will feature some of the earliest surviving homes built after the War of 1812. “We are fortunate here because we have so many examples of this period. The difficulty was choosing homes that have enough pieces in our collection that help tell their stories.”  In addition, said Kaufman, the provincial government’s amendment to the Ontario Heritage Act, as a result of Bill 23, could negatively impact the cultural landscape of our municipality by endangering undesignated houses that have historical significance. “And so, this is a critical time for our community to understand the importance of preserving these heritage homes,” said Kaufman

Also exciting for the museum, is their “Heritage Festival - The past is present” on Monday August 5th from 11am-3 pm!! With free admission for all, this event will bring history to life through demonstrations, treasures sale, bake sale, live music and a Pig Roast!!!  What a great way to spend the Civic Holiday!!  Did we forget to say that it’s free?? 

Did you know?

For visitors who would like a wine tasting experience in town without visiting a winery, the Churchill Lounge at the Prince of Wales offers a flight of four wines (Sparkling, White, Rosé and Red) from local wineries for $20.00. You can just take a seat in the lounge area and let the server know you'd like a wine tasting!

The Voices of Freedom Park at the corner of Regent and Johnson Streets has a place for brochures for the park. If you are on a walking shift and would like to take a walk along that way, please take a few brochures from the office to place in the rack to ensure it is well stocked!

One more reminder: don't forget to check the "Go To Niagara" website daily for excellent and detailed information on what is happening in Niagara-on-the-Lake all the time!

Community Guides

The NOTL Community Guide for the Spring/Summer 2024, full of exciting and engaging activities for all residents and visitors is now available [click on the image below for your copy]:

Another excellent guide is The Lake Report's Visitors Guide for summer 2024 [click on the image below to download a copy]. The Lake Report, in partnership with Tourism NOTL, has produced a great magazine that is a MUST READ for Ambassadors and is now available for visitors to pick up at the Kiosk.


Community Site Visits Update
by Vlad Haltigin

The end of May and June have given Ambassadors many more opportunities to learn about the wonderful options Niagara-on-the-Lake provides for visitors & residents!

A focus for this season has been to visit the communities and villages around NOTL, in order for Ambassadors to encourage visitors to explore more of the wonderful options outside of the Heritage District. During this period, specific experiences were offered in St. Davids, Queenston & Virgil.

A Taste of St Davids: Wine & Chocolate

At opposite ends of York Road, Ambassadors were welcomed by Château des Charmes Estate Winery and by CFX Chocolates.

Château des Charmes is the second-oldest winery in NOTL dating back to 1978. Rather than buying grapes from other local growers, it has prided itself over the years on producing wine only from grapes grown on its property to guarantee high quality, balance, finesse and structure. It produces 13 different types of wine, including popular wines such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon as well as unique blends such as Gamay Noir Droit and Aligote. Viewing the 120 acres of vines and learning about the character of the soils in the St. Davids Bench was certainly fascinating. The impressive Château  itself is also a popular location for weddings and private events.

The CFX Chocolate Factory Experience in St Davids, open since 2005, describes itself as ‘Niagara’s Choice for Premium Artisanal Craft Chocolate’, another phrase for delicious experiences! Ambassadors were shown the production process through its moulding, panning and packaging steps, and of course were indulged with a sampling of chocolate treats. The retail store is part of the property and free daily tours are offered to visitors. A chocolate lover's paradise!

More quality wines!....

Among NOTL’s 35 wineries are two more, dedicated, very high quality and well-established wineries: Reif and Konzelmann. The hospitality to their guests at both these wineries is legendary, and both were originally founded by German families. Their proximity to water is what makes them unique!! Reif is across from the Niagara River and Konzelmann is the only winery located on Lake Ontario!! The prevailing winds off the water greatly influence their high quality wines.

Reif prides itself as the oldest family winery in Niagara, founded in 1982. It has a lovely sensory Garden Patio and Outdoor Kitchen for visitors, with great space for indoor and outdoor functions, including the recent ‘White Effect Dinner’, a locals' must-attend summer event.

Konzelmann's land was originally a peach farm, and they have continued to use local peaches for their best-selling peach wine, among a wide array of highest quality red & white wines. A unique Vineyard Dome has been created outside for small-group private tastings and is constantly booked. Wedding ceremonies and even proposal ceremonies are also offered lakeside …. is there anything more romantic than that?

Jam & Suds anyone?....

In NOTL, the name Greaves Jams & Marmalades immediately conjures up the feeling of local pride and the highest quality. The Greaves retail store on Queen Street is a must-visit for everyone, but the Ambassadors also were afforded a unique private visit to the production facility in Virgil, where over 50 flavours of jam are produced. No public tours are offered. In the early years, from 1927 until 1989, Greaves made and sold its jams, jellies, marmalades, and condiments out of the same location in the historic district of Niagara-on-the-Lake at 55 Queen Street. Since then, this much larger facility was built in Virgil to accommodate their growing needs, but their historic retail store remained in its original location. You can still visit their unique shop, filled with their pure products, many gift boxes and plenty of delicious Canadian gourmet products and preserves.

A distinctly different taste was given to Ambassadors with a visit to the Oast House Brewery, where all their beers are brewed in-house using local ingredients and fruits. It’s an action-packed place with frequent tastings and an outdoor BBQ kitchen & bar on the back patio. Live band entertainment is present regularly and their Hay Loft event space upstairs is eclectic, and perfect for celebratory functions to have pure fun. Cheers all round!

The Significance of Queenston

Queenston Heights with Brock’s Monument & The Landscape of Nations have such historical significance not only to Niagara, but also to Canada, so it was important to give Ambassadors the opportunity to hear about the area’s incredible history and the role that indigenous allies played during the ‘War of 1812’ period. These wonderful interwoven stories will help Ambassadors in their interactions with visitors to NOTL to encourage them to visit this revered site.

The following week, Ambassadors experienced Queenston Village by visiting the Laura Secord Homestead, where Canada's most famous heroine, Laura Secord, started her perilous 32 kilometre journey to warn the British of an imminent American surprise attack during the War of 1812. 

Just up the street is the Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum, former home of William Lyon Mackenzie, where in 1824 he started an independent newspaper, when printing presses were symbols of freedom and progress. The Printery remains Canada’s only working museum of printing history.

Up the Niagara Parkway is the McFarland House, truly an upper-class brick home of the time, a monument to the impeccable demeanour, good taste and gracious living that epitomizes Niagara-on-the-Lake. Built by Scotsman John McFarland, the home was used as a military hospital during the War of 1812 by both the Americans and the British. This historic site is another elegant place for visitors to see and where, at the same time, they can indulge in a delicious traditional British afternoon tea experience within a glass-enclosed Conservatory Tea Room. Scrumptious!

More recent history of Queenston Village was completed with a visit to the RiverBrink Art Museum, former home of renowned art collector Samuel Weir, which features artworks from other Canadian and International collections. An art lover’s delight.

Pioneers & another gem....

No winery experience in NOTL for both Ambassadors and visitors would be complete without going to Inniskillin, Niagara’s oldest winery. In 1974, pioneers Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser made history by being given the first winery licence in Canada since Prohibition. They clearly paved the way for the explosive success of the industry today, and their award-winning icewine is legendary. Additionally, they established the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) designation, which guarantees the high quality and authenticity of origin for Canadian wines made in Ontario and BC.

Just around the corner is Marynissen Winery, a charming small-lot winery, originally family-owned, who also persevered with making wines since 1978 and continues the tradition today of handcrafted high-quality wines. Another local gem.

Next up....

Ambassadors' Community Site visits will conclude for this season during July with these exciting visits....

  • July 16 - The Whirlpool Aero Car and Niagara Glen Nature Centre in Niagara Falls

  • July 25 - Fort George

Ambassadors "On the Street" Experiences

From our Online Posts

On May 31st...

Our Ambassadors Roy and Catharine had the honour to meet on Queen Street the Minister of Tourism Canada, Soraya Martinez Ferrada, who stopped and chatted with them for a while.

On June 16th ...

We saw an absolutely lovely post by Irish Design!
Kevin and Elena were doing their Ambassador walk-about in the afternoon, when a family ran up to them asking for help. The little boy was holding a small Irish Design bag with a little bird inside with what could have been a hurt wing. They were so concerned and, together, they all agreed that calling the Humane Society would be best. The NSPCA was there very quickly and they took charge of the little bird. This wonderful, caring family was from Singapore, just visiting for the day. Our Ambassadors and Irish Design staff were so very touched by their kindness, and we hope their experience told them something positive about our Town too. This is the post by Irish Design =>

On June 9th ...

It was quite a shift on Queen Street, with the rain, the sunshine and then thunder and lightening! The ceremony at the Polish Military cemetery was very moving and apparently attended by almost 2,000 people, even though the planned parade had to be cancelled. And a few of us braved the weather and stayed out there assisting our visitors!

Technology Brief

In June we continued to provide daily support to our 80 Ambassadors with their tech needs, as well as the occasional support to the Tourism Office staff (you know, when that pesky keyboard has a mind of its own and that new printer seems to be refusing to print double-sided!!). 

A couple of ongoing reminders:

  • Training

    Training and refreshers continue to be available to Ambassadors on an as-needed basis. Feel free to reach out to Elena for support.

  • Volunteer Shifts

    Ambassadors, don't forget to make sure you fulfil your six-shift minimum for the seasonNote that walking and kiosk shifts have now been released up to Labour Day, September 2nd, and more shifts will be released in August for the remainder of the season. There are still many slots available, so please have a look.

  • Facebook

    The private Ambassador Facebook group has been even more active in June so far, with many Ambassadors contributing photos and valuable information. Please consider joining and sharing with your fellow Ambassadors, if you haven’t done so already.

    We also have a public Facebook page. Please don't forget to share it, "Like" it and promote it with friends and family:

  • Ambassador Website

    Our Ambassador website continues to be available to all: Ambassadors, partners, residents and visitors. It is a source of valuable information for all about our Town and is updated regularly by our volunteers. Please consider sharing it with as many friends as possible to spread the word!

    [Click on the image below to reach the site]

From all of us to each and every one of you, thank you for your commitment, your enthusiasm and your special talent for reaching out to our visitors and making them feel welcomed.

You are simply THE BEST!

Co-Leads: Vlad  & Laurie

Leadership Team: Lynne, Kim, Cheryl, Patti, Kathryn, Elena and Mandy