Bracebridge business owners celebrate successes

June 20, 2022

Bracebridge business owners celebrate successes and remember old friends at chamber gala

Celebrating in 1920s fashion at Muskoka Foundry

Monday, June 20, 2022

There was more than just the glitz and glam of the roaring ’20 theme of the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce business awards gala, there were also sombre moments honouring dearly departed friends.

The 2022 awards were held at the Muskoka Foundry, June 16.

“I feel great,” said Mike Rickard, of El Pueblito Mexican Restaurant, during the ceremony. “I think everybody on our team did a really good job and I feel proud of them.” The restaurant was presented with the service provider of the year award. “There’s been a lot of local support as well so we’re grateful for that,” said Mike. “Very happy to live in Bracebridge.”

“It was a very rough couple of years, but we made it through,” said owner Marlene Rickard.

Justis Remouche makes custom cakes, cupcakes, piñatas and other things for parties with Blue’s Sweet Treats Muskoka. “I love what I do, and I like seeing the customers’ faces when I give them the cake and they’re just blown away by it,” she said.

That expression may be much the same one Remouche had when it was announced she was winner of the young entrepreneur of the year award. “I was really really shocked. I wasn’t expecting it at all,” she said. “I was up against a lot of really good nominees. I just came for the fun and was just honoured to be nominated. The fact that I won was just icing on the cake.”

Fyonna Vanderwerf, of Hive Muskoka, was presented with the accessibility award after doing substantial renovations to the fitness facility that exceed provincial accessibility standards. “We still have a long way to go in our community to be accessible so I’m glad we have somewhere where people can pursue their health and movement and we’re very excited,” she said. “It’s just one step more toward inclusivity within the health and movement sector.”

Cameron Therrien, general manager of Santa’s Village, readied to present the tourism award however, it was the Bracebridge theme park proclaimed as winner. “We’re always really excited to have the opportunity to present (the award) because we usually sponsor it so it’s really great to actually win it this year as well,” he said.

Other winners were: Climb Muskoka for new business of the year; The Old Station Restaurant, established business of the year; Paws of the North Rescue, best home-based business of the year; Cut Floral, excellent customer service award; Santa’s Village, tourism award; Warren Dix of Big River Baking Co., male businessperson of the year; Dr. Kersti Kents of Medical Aesthetics of Muskoka, female businessperson of the year; and Guy Gagnon of Gagnon’s Your Independent Grocer, outstanding contribution to Bracebridge.

Gagnon, co-owner of Gagnon’s Your Independent Grocer died of cancer in March, was posthumously honoured. “This is a special award for a special guy, really and truly,” said chamber past president and friend Richard Borland, stating Gagnon did many things for the community, but always quietly. “We lost a good friend in Guy; I can’t think of a more worthy recipient.”

“He gave his service to this country and gave his service to the town in so many ways,” said Paul Mascarin. “I can’t think of anybody who gave more of his time and his service to projects in this community so he will be sorely missed.”

The “Chamber Gazette,” the program for the evening, told the history of venue. The revitalization of the historic foundry building was the dream of Audrey van Petegem and her husband Scott Harkness. Van Petegem sat on the chamber board for three years. She died suddenly after a heart attack in Sept. 2020.

“She had a strong love for the Muskoka community that shone through her work and her volunteer work — notwithstanding, her work here at the chamber,” stated the program. “We cannot express how much she is still missed around the board table and in our lives.”

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