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The Annual Niagara-on-the-Lake Spirit Awards 

Presented by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce

Recognizing the Achievements of our Community

The celebratory award night was held on February 27th 2024

at Ravine Vineyard!

Congratulations to all our deserving nominees and finalists. Your collective personal commitment for excellence and involment in our community's life and well being are the seeds from which grows our 

Niagara-on-the-Lake Spirit.


Our town would not be the same without you. 

The following awards were given to deserving members of our community


Business of the Year Award

Vintage Hotels

Presented by Scotia Wealth Management

Our first award recipient needs no introduction. This business is and has been at the very core of our community since the late 90’s, striving to provide its patrons with a personal approach, uniqueness down to the finest details and a commitment to providing exceptional service and an unforgettable stay.  The name alone has become an icon of quality in the tourism industry, reinforcing our town’s ‘’Premier Destination’’ image far beyond our humble borders, therefore reflecting positively on all of us for almost 20 years.

In 1997 the top landmark hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake joined together to create a new standard of elegance and sophistication in the region. The vision was to redefine luxury and hospitality by making these hotels in Niagara a true destination for even the most discerning traveler. Since then, this business has grown to also include other locations, notably in Caledon and Jordan Village, expanding its reach of signature luxury & service outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Their mission is simple yet challenging: ‘’Exceptional individuals delivering exceptional experiences.’’ A short statement we all strive for, but we must say they accomplish extraordinarily well!  

Congratulations to this year's Business of the Year Award recipient:

Vintage Hotels


Dan Patterson Youth Leadership Award

Michaiah Ivri

Presented by Niagara College

This amazing young woman has been a youth leader in our Niagara-on-the-Lake community for numerous years. She has and continues to inspire through her volunteerism, advocacy, coaching and, truly, simply by being herself.

She is the most recent Chair of the Lord Mayor’s youth Advisory Committee, where she organized the Mental Health Conference for youth and partnered with the Lion’s Club to conduct a community clean up. Her tribute to the children identified in Residential Schools unmarked graves was published and read at Town Hall in a special ceremony.

As past president of the St David’s Leo’s Club, she help to raise over $150 000 for the Mc Master Children’s teen Zone, helping teenagers undergoing chemotherapy. She is a member of the Leadership by Design Program, a runner up in the NOTL Museum’s Chloe Cooley Commemoration Project, and the founder of the Roots Club at her school, a program designed to teach and promote Black Excellence and Achievement.

She is also an athlete, well known on the soccer fields. After the recent acquisition of her Soccer coaching license, she became assistant coach of the Girls U15 Ontario Players Development Team, while transitioning herself to higher levels of play.

Congratulations to this year's Dan Patterson Youth Leadership Award recipient:


Michaiah Ivri


Celia Liu Award for Excellence in Hospitality & Tourism

Rob & Danielle Begin

Presented by Oban Inn Spa Restaurant

Our next Spirit Award recipient’s story is one of childhood dreams, hard work, passion and family… This newer addition to the Niagara-on-the-Lake hospitality scene has been nothing less than a great success since its opening and has been embraced by both visitors and locals alike as a popular friends and family gathering place.

Tonight’s winner will be no surprise to anyone who experienced the new hub with ‘’ champagne taste on a beer budget’’. Wonderful food, great customer service, a modern,trendy yet casual vibe, all delivered from an invaluable piece of history that needed to be maintained and rehabilitated back to its former glory in a new and exciting way.  We can confidently say it took a fair amount of vision and perhaps a dash of crazy to transform ‘’The Barn’’, originally owned by the Fedorkow Family in St David’s into the masterpiece it is today.

To what now seems a little bit of a miracle, we can only raise our glasses & pints and say Bravo. After more than 185 years, brewing is finally back to St. David’s along with a relaxed eatery and everyone loves it. Indeed, nothing is more important than family time and we can all agree with this new classic statement: ‘’No great story every started with “One time I was eating a salad…’’

Congratulations to this year's Celia Liu Award for Excellence in Hospitality and Tourism recipient:

Rob & Danielle Begin from The Grist!


Community Leadership Award:

Sarah Kaufman

Presented by The Lake Report

Born and raised in the Niagara Region, our next award recipient has, through the years, worked in over 7 of Niagara’s heritage institutions. She started her current position in one of the most respected institutions in Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2010 and since then has worked wholeheartedly towards its noble vision: ‘’ creating expanded experiences that connect and engage people with the past, while being the heritage champion for all who value Niagara-on-the-Lake, its history and culture.’’

Through her position and accomplishments, she has been nominated and recognized for several awards such as: Top 40 under 40 and the Women is Business. Her tireless work towards the betterment of our community’s life as well as her involvement in numerous projects over the years such as the Landscape of Nations, the Voices of Freedom Park, and other commemorative initiatives and committees have all contributed in shaping our community.

Through her position, she is responsible for the day to day operations as well as the management, research and exhibition of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum's collection. Let’s also acknowledge how it would be impossible to accomplish it all alone; she gracefully leads an amazing team of passionate co-workers and volunteers, the many helping hands and minds, together ensuring all work gets done!

Congratulations to this year's Community Leadership Award recipient:

Sarah Kaufman from the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum!


Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Niagara Juice Co.

Presented by Niagara Trailers

Our next award recipient opened shop as a one woman show 2 years ago in the thick of the pandemic. Her dream was to bring to locals and visitors quality goods, made from scratch daily. She deeply believes that the health of a community has many levels, but is rooted in the well-being of its individuals, which is why she pours all of herself into her business while staying true to her dream of feeding us all into health!

As a staunch supporter of other local businesses, she always displays any local artists or vendors brochures, even those in the same category. She has added a warmth to the downtown business community that is felt not only by her peers, but by her customers and employees.

Her cold pressed juices are crafted with love and care; some are delivered to other local health outlets, but most importantly, to cancer groups. Seven days a week she is there, at her shop, baking, making, crafting. To this day she can still be seen tirelessly rolling fresh dough for her regulars. Emerging from her own passion and dedication, she is putting the old-fashioned charm and care of a bygone era back into the historic old town area, and for that, we can only say ‘’thank you’’.

Congratulations to this year's Entrepreneurial Spirit Award recipient:

Karrie Galvin from Niagara Juice Co.


Christopher Newton Award for Arts and Culture

Andorlie Hillstrom

Presented by The Shaw Festival 

Our next award recipient has been pouring her energy into youth and the performing arts for decades. In the early 1990’s she saw a need in her community at the time and started some dance, drama and musical theatre groups to give young people a place to grow and enjoy the many benefits that an education in the arts can provide. Through this effort, she has inspired hundreds, over the years, some of whom have become Canada’s most talented performers.

When she moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake, she recognized how the Shaw Festival’s presence could benefit the youth of today and help build the arts community of tomorrow. Following on her previous work and vision, she started a brand new organization in 2015 dedicated towards this goal. As its tireless captain, she has created and environment that is always giving and encouraging, setting a high standard of professionalism, personal growth and skill development, all by providing what she calls ‘’ Experience for Life’’ to these young people considering where their own future may take them. A perfect way of describing what is being brought to our NOTL youth through the efforts of everyone now involved in the Yellow Door theatre Project!

Congratulations to this year's Christopher Newton Award for Arts and Culture recipient:

Andorlie Hillstrom from The Yellow Door Theatre Project


Outstanding Achievement in Agriculture Award

Huebel Grapes Estates

Presented by St. David's Cold Storage

Tonight’s award recipient has become Niagara’s leader in sustainable and innovative viticultural practices for tomorrow. This family business was established in 1984 with the primary mission of growing quality vinifera grapes for quality wine production through sustainable and innovative viticultural practices. A simple and honest goal that was not only reached, but far surpassed.

In 2005, they were one of the first companies in the world to own and operate GPS planting machinery. For over 35 years, they have not only provided others within the wine industry with quality services and grapes from top-quality vineyards, but also made available some practical and innovative pieces of farming equipment and products. Their influence on the local grape industry extends far beyond our little town.

They currently manage their own vineyards alongside custom managing multiple other vineyards in the Niagara Region. They continue to maintain their involvement, while keeping a close eye on the latest innovations within the grape and wine industry.

Congratulations to this year's Outstanding Achievement in Agriculture Award recipient:

Matthias Oppenlaender from Huebel Grapes Estates


Peter Ling Award for Business Leadership

Tim Jennings

​​​Presented by STAY Niagara-on-the-Lake 

Our next award recipient is a respected member of our community with more than 35 years of international professional experience in his field and a passion for social advocacy. He is known for his creativity, financial acumen, leadership skills and energy. He started his current executive position in 2015 for an organization that is nothing less than a central pillar of our community and has worked incessantly towards its growth and well being ever since.

His steadfast commitment to protect and improve artist and artisan’s working conditions as well as supporting the visionary work of all his partners are at the center of his career and beliefs. The impact of this commitment has certainly rippled out on our entire community. It is a constant reminder of all the marvels that can be accomplished and created when collaborating hard working people feel free to put their best, full and authentic selves forward towards common goals and projects. Feeling valued, recognized and included, isn’t that what we all wished for? Through the years, we have all witnessed this miracle unfold countless times in front of our very eyes on the different stages around town.

As Executive Director of the Shaw Festival, and through his many other outreach committees and board involvements, tonight’s recipient reminds us all, without a shadow of a doubt, how selfless, genuine commitment to excellence and service truly touches the community by inspiring us to put our own best self forward!

Congratulations to this year's Peter Ling Award for Business Leadership recipient:

 Tim Jennings from The Shaw Festival


Chamber of Commerce Award

Paul MacIntyre, Past Chair of the Chamber of Commerce

Presented by your Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce

Our last award recipient of the night is a champion and veteran of the hospitality industry with over a 30-year track record. Through the years, he has held diverse leadership and operational roles, but might be more recently known for dealing with all aspects of new and exciting investment projects, from conception to execution, as well as the transitional leadership management of newly acquired locations. He has previously served as a Board Director for the Red Roof Retreat, Premiers Spas of Ontario and the Green Belt Tourism Strategy Committee, to name only a few. His involvement and advocacy work through various committees related to tourism, has been instrumental, perhaps essential, in safeguarding the well being of our local economy and the health of our business community, far more than most people would know…

He is the past chair of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce and I would like to personally acknowledge tonight his unwavering perseverance through the difficult years of the pandemic. After his official 6-year term with the Chamber ended at a time when important official processes were still being worked on, he stayed, continuing to attend the meetings as past chair for quite a while, being this great resource for everyone, in all facets of this important advocacy work that is being done by the Chamber of Commerce on behalf of all of us from the business community. Also, chosen to be on the strategic planning and the MAT committees, he brings, as aways, a plethora of knowledge and experience from the tourism and hospitality industry. He has been, is and continues to be a huge supporter of the Chamber, tourism and the town.

Congratulations to this year's Chamber of Commerce Award recipient:

Paul MacIntyre, Past Chair of the NOTL Chamber of Commerce


Lord Mayor’s Award of Excellence Presented to the Citizen of the Year

Laurie Harley

Presented by Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa

It is with great pride that I present the Lord Mayor’s Award of Excellence to the Citizen of the Year. This award is dedicated to recognizing an individual who has made significant and ongoing contributions to Niagara-on-the-Lake, benefiting the Town in various areas such as business, philanthropy, and community involvement. The recipient is seen as a role model within the community.

Congratulations to all those nominated. Niagara-on-the-Lake is fortunate by the work of all nominees to better our community and ensure our collective success. The hours you spend serving our community do not go unnoticed and are sincerely appreciated. You are all the shining stars within our wonderful Niagara-on-the-Lake family.

Now for this year’s winner - The winner of this year's award has a great passion for the community. Her work embodies the true spirit of Niagara-on-the-Lake and through continuous support and passion for the Town, she has made Niagara-on-the-Lake a better place to live, work, and visit.

This year’s winner has devoted countless hours to volunteering within leadership roles, with continued dedication to the Shaw Festival Theatre and Niagara-on-the-Lake Historical Museum. As a founder and co-leader of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Ambassadors program, she has been instrumental in leading our local resident ambassador volunteers, all of whom take immense pride in contributing their time to promote tourism in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Her vision has ensured the program's enduring success, overseeing aspects from recruitment to training and actively seeking out grant opportunities.  She is constantly striving for success and encouraging others to do the same. Her unwavering dedication and outstanding contributions to our beloved Niagara-on-the-Lake truly embody the spirit of excellence we celebrate with these awards!

Congratulations to this year's Lord Mayor’s Award of Excellence:

Laurie Harley from The Ambassadors

Congratulations to all 2023 Niagara-on-the-Lake

Spirit Award Winners!

Our best wishes to our entire Niagara-on-the-Lake community for a succesful & cheerfully spirited year 2024!

Allow yourself to shine!


For past winners click here


General Guidelines and Nomination Protocol

-Niagara-on-the-Lake residents, businesses operating within the municipal boundaries of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and/or an employee of a business of Niagara-on-the-Lake are eligible for nomination.

-A business or individual may be nominated for one or more awards.

-A nomination must be accompanied by the nominee’s full name and a description of the nominee’s contribution, achievement or examples that would qualify them for recognition within the criteria of that award(s).

-Any nominee that is self appointed will be disqualified from consideration.

-Nominations were opened from Sunday, October 1st, 2023 12:01AM and closed on Sunday, November 5th, 2023 11:59PM 

The Spirit Award Committee of 2023 selected those who best qualified for each category from the submitted nominations.


Thank you to our generous Event Sponsors

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