Spark program ignites three new tourism businesses

December 9, 2020

Three finalists who made winning pitches for the Cornwall & SDG Counties “Spark” Program were each awarded a $3,000 grant and a tourism mentorship to help take their new tourism ideas to the next level of development. The “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program is a partnership between the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab, Cornwall Tourism, Cornwall Tourism Development Fund, and SDG Counties. Its goal is to find, foster and support new tourism ideas, experiences and partnerships that will enhance current offerings, address gaps or challenges, motivate travel and longer stays, and increase year-round visits in the region.

“When I think of all the incredible ideas and concepts that were presented to us, it’s no wonder that this program was such a tremendous success. The next step will be seeing our winners grow the seeds of success they planted today with attractions that will increase our tourism footprint in eastern Ontario,” said Karina Belanger, Tourism Coordinator, the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

Sixteen applications were submitted in total with the top five applicants being invited to present their new tourism idea at a virtual Finalists’ Pitch Session held Dec. 8. A panel of partner representatives and a tourism entrepreneur from outside the region selected the three winning applicants.
The 2020 Cornwall & SDG Counties “Spark” Program winners are:

  • Ky-Lee & Sasha Hansen, Oneida Hospitality: Operating out of the former United Church of Iroquois, the business offers a grand event space and will enhance their offerings with ‘Sunday Picnics in the Park’ with classic car drive in. Enjoy your own picnic or one prepared by their red seal chef while taking in the classic cars on display.
  • Vanessa Leduc, Cornwall Food Tours: Cornwall foodie, Vanessa Leduc will share her passion for local flavours by guiding participants on food tours, sampling many different dishes and beverages from local restaurants, while sharing interesting and fun facts about the area. Experience Cornwall’s big palette and grand history on a safe and guided tour.
  • Jakob & Stephanie Vogel, Fields of Gold: Transforming 14 acres of land on the Monkland farm, into fields and trails of natural sunflowers to be enjoyed by nature lovers of all ages. The agritourism destination will welcome the public to walk the trails, host events, and hold private photography sessions.

“Congratulations to all our winners and our participants. This has been a wonderful collaboration of tourism driven individuals who are all striving for the same goal – to make Cornwall and the surrounding region of SDG a destination for visitors looking for authentic experiences and wonderful memories,” shares Amy Malyon, Tourism Coordinator, City of Cornwall.

Cornwall Tourism will be highlighting each of the new businesses over the next few months to provide more information on how visitors and residents alike can experience these new offerings.

“We congratulate the three winners of the Cornwall & SDG Counties “Spark” Program, and are excited to work with them to help develop new and exciting tourism initiatives in the region” said Justin Lafontaine, program lead for the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab.

In addition to a source of start-up funds and mentorship, selected applicants gain access to a network of tourism innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders across the province.
Innovation in the tourism industry is critical for the region to respond, adapt and recover from the significant impacts and evolving travel landscape as a result of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

Learn more about SPARK

Play it safe!

We all have a part to play in combating the spread of COVID-19. Residents are encouraged to wear masks in indoor public spaces and practice frequent hand washing and physical distancing. For the latest guidelines and restrictions related to COVID-19, please visit the Eastern Ontario Health Unit website.


Looking for other fun things to do in Cornwall? Check out the Explore section of our website for other fun-filled activities to keep you busy. Better yet, consider extending your stay with a night at one of our great accommodations!