CKTB morning show to air live from Niagara College on October 11

Tune in to hear Niagara College on the Newstalk 610 CKTB morning show Friday, October 11.

President Dan Patterson and representatives from the College’s Research & Innovation Division will join Niagara in the Morning radio hosts Tim Denis and Shelby Knox, and other special guests, as part of CKTB’s Business Trip. Airing from 5:30 to 9 a.m., the Business Trip aims to shine the spotlight on food and beverage innovation in Niagara.

It will be broadcast live from NC’s Marotta Family Innovation Complex – the new home of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.

NC guests will include:

  • Gavin Robertson, winemaker and instructor, who will speak about his involvement as faculty lead on Research & Innovation’s Royal Canadian Mead and Reinhardt’s cider projects at 6:50 a.m.;
  • Lyndon Ashton, centre manager for NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre, along with student research assistant Shannon Sidney Wood, who will participate in a 30-minute roundtable at 7:30 a.m.; and
  • President Dan Patterson, who will join a 30-minute roundtable discussion at 8:30 a.m.

The segment will also highlight Research & Innovation’s industry partner Iron Will Raw, a leader in holistic pet food. Matt Bonanno, president and CEO of Iron Will Raw, will speak about how the St. Catharines-based company became the first the first raw pet food manufacturer in Ontario and Eastern Canada to achieve Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point certification with help from Niagara College’s Research & Innovation Division at 7:20 a.m.

Additional guests will include Niagara winemaker Sue-Ann Staff, as well as representatives from Niagara Economic Development, Pinty’s, Shreddies, and Rich’s.

Tune into the radio show on October 11 between 5:30 and 9 a.m. on AM 610 radio, or listen online at

Mug Share program launches at The Shack, The Undergrounds

Forgot to bring your reusable coffee mug to campus?

Staff and students now have the option of borrowing a mug, instead of reaching for a disposable cup with their coffee purchase, thanks to a new Mug Share program launched by the Office of Sustainability and the Niagara College Student Administrative Council.

The Mug Share program, which launched on International Coffee Day on October 1, aims to make mugs available to borrow at The Shack (Welland Campus) and The Undergrounds (NOTL Campus) cafes, for those who forgot to bring their own reusable mugs. Those who borrow a mug or bring their own reusable mug, rather than use a disposable cup, will not only help reduce waste, but will receive a 50 percent discount on their coffee/ hot beverage purchase during the month of October

Students will receive a $1 Basil Buck when they bring their own reusable mug, thanks to a partnership with the Centre of Student Engagement and Leadership.

Starting November 1, there will be a 75-cent discount on hot beverage items that would have been served in single-use paper cups.

“The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce single-use coffee cups on campus, which will contribute to less waste going to landfill,” said Amber Schmucker, sustainability program and outreach coordinator. “Single-use coffee cups and their components, lids and sleeves, are one of the top contaminants in the waste streams on campus, which is why we have a coffee cup bin (our gray bin that goes to landfill), but this program goes one step further to try significantly reduce this waste material at the source.”

NCSAC president Tom Price noted that it was important for the NCSAC student-led enterprises to be involved with the Mug Share initiative in order to bring awareness to, and support, the College’s sustainability efforts.

“NCSAC recognizes that this effort will address the needs of today without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their needs,” said Price. “This partnership also provides the opportunity to attend to the immediate economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainability.”

Donate a mug

NC employees are encouraged to donate mugs to the Mug Share program. Donated mugs should be clean and in good condition, without cracks. They will be cleaned as well prior to being available for use at the student cafes. Mug donations may be dropped off at The Shack or The Undergrounds.

And there’s a bonus; those who donate a mug to the Mug Share program will receive a free coffee!

Bring your own reusable mug

Having everyone bring in their reusable mugs from home, of course, is the ultimate goal, noted Schmucker.  That’s why those who bring their reusable mugs receive a discount on the purchase of their coffee at the Shack and The Undergrounds.

“But if they do forget, because we are all human – even the Office of Sustainability has been known to forget a mug – then they will have this as an alternative to needing a single-use cup,” she said.


Student engagement in the spotlight for Get Involved Week Oct. 7-11

There is more to college than classes alone, and NC students will have a chance to explore the numerous possibilities from October 7 to 11 as part of NC’s Get Involved Week.

Dina Fox, associate director of student engagement, noted that the week is the ultimate opportunity for students to discover the numerous ways they can get involved both on- and off-campus. It also aims to acquaint students with the benefits of building their Co-Curricular Record (CCR) – an official college document which enables registered students to gain recognition for student engagement, leadership and co-curricular activities pursued outside the classroom.

“From getting involved with college initiatives, to lending a hand as a volunteer in the community, students gain valuable transferable skills that can help them with their career goals and can help set them apart from other candidates when they are applying for jobs,” said Fox. “Networking and gaining skills and experience working with others is what the Co-Curricular Record is all about, and Get Involved Week is a good opportunity for students to learn all about how the CCR can boost their academic credentials and their resumes.”

At On Campus Fairs, students will have the opportunity to speak with various college organizations and learn how they can get involved at their campus – from peer mentoring and LEAD, to Be World Ready and more. Students can also learn more about the Co-Curricular Record. On Campus Fairs will be held at the NOTL Campus on October 7 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) in the cafeteria foyer, and at the Welland Campus on October 10 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) in the Learning Commons.

Off Campus Fairs will showcase opportunities available for students in their communities. Students can speak to representatives from various organizations and learn how they can get involved – including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Niagara SPCA, St. John’s Ambulance, Scouts Canada, Autism Ontario, Canada Revenue Agency, Alzheimer Society, and many more. Off Campus Fairs will be held at the NOTL Campus on October 8 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) in the cafeteria foyer, and at the Welland Campus October 9 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) in the Learning Commons.

Volunteering 101 drop-in sessions will be open to students interested in volunteering, who may not know how to get started. Students can learn all about volunteering on- and off-campus and find out how volunteering can help lead them to their future career. Sessions will be held at the Welland Campus on October 10 (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.) in the Lundy Boardroom (L201), and at the NOTL Campus on October 11 (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.) in W213-1.

Students who wish to learn about creating a professional online image won’t want to miss the Lead N Learn events. The student-driven, one-hour sessions give students the ability to develop public speaking and presentation skills. They are open for all students to drop-in. They will be held at the NOTL Campus on October 8 (3:30 to 4:30 p.m.) in W205, and at the Welland Campus on October 9 (3:30 to 4:30 p.m.) in the Lundy Boardroom L201.

On October 16 and October 29 at the NOTL Campus, a Volunteer to Career Info Booth will be set up in the cafeteria foyer (11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) showcasing volunteer opportunities available to students. Students can also learn about how to use their co-curricular experiences to land a career.

For more info about Get Involved Week, visit

Chautauqua Oaks Project Plants the Seeds of a Bright Future for Heritage Oaks

The future is looking bright for the distinctive tree canopy covering Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Chautauqua neighbourhood, thanks to the combined efforts of a small group of community volunteers, the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara College.

Concern over the increased thinning of the heritage tree canopy led to the creation of The Chautauqua Oaks Project. This resident-driven project has, in just four years,

completed a tree inventory, developed a community tree plan, and began replanting their disappearing tree canopy. To date, The Project has planted 80 of the planned 400 trees needed to rejuvenate the urban forest.

When the College’s School of Environment and Horticulture joined the project, several new opportunities arose. Since Fall of 2018 Niagara College students have been harvesting acorns from Chautauqua’s heritage oak trees.  At the College’s Niagara on the Lake Campus these acorns are then germinated and nurtured to produce crops of future “ChautauquaOaks” to be used for The Project’s replanting program.

“Partnering with The Chautauqua Oaks Project has opened up countless applied learning opportunities for our students, who are getting real-work experience in the preservation and restoration of our natural ecosystems,” said Al Unwin, Niagara College’s Associate Dean of Environment and Horticulture. “It also demonstrates the benefits that can arise when residents, government and post-secondary institutions work together.”

At a special event at Chautauqua’s Ryerson Park on October 1, Leslie Frankish, founder of The Chautauqua Oaks Project recognized the remarkable outcome of this unique collaboration by presenting ‘Acorn Awards’ to all those “who helped make a forest grow.”

“The Project’s remarkable success has been achieved through combined efforts,” said Frankish. “There is a saying: “From unassuming acorns, mighty oaks will grow.”  They certainly do so, if provided sustenance. Similarly, the vision of the Project was like an acorn, a seed planted, and providentially, it was continually sustained by many acts of kindness and support by resident volunteers, town staff and college faculty. Each in of themselves may have been unassuming but collectively, an astonishing outcome is possible – a forest will rise!”

And that forest will be shared. “Replanting with the homegrown offspring of our heritage trees is a rare, remarkable opportunity for the restoration of a heritage urban forest,” said Frankish. “On behalf of The Chautauqua Oaks Project and Niagara College, we would like to share the benefits of our endeavour by gifting crops of ‘ChautauquaOaks’ to the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, annually and in perpetuity.”

As a symbol of this gift, the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Lord Mayor Betty Disero was presented with the first three ‘ChautauquaOaks’ grown at the College.

“The natural grandeur and beauty of the Oaks from Chautauqua is a stunning contribution that will help maintain the epic scale of the heritage tree canopy in Niagara-on-the-Lake,” stated Lord Mayor Disero. “Many thanks to Niagara College and The Chautauqua Oaks Project for this remarkable gift.”

More information on The Chautauqua Oaks Project can be found at

Niagara College’s School of Environment and Horticulture features unique and world-class programs that provide students with a wide variety of exciting career choices. Pioneering Graduate Certificate programs like Commercial Cannabis Production and Commercial Beekeeping open up career opportunities in exciting new fields, while others serve the growing workforce needs of the horticultural, greenhouse, and environmental protection and restoration sectors, both here in Niagara and around the world.




Media inquiries, please contact:


Leslie Frankish

Founder, The Chautauqua Oaks Project


Andrew Korchok

Communications Consultant
Niagara College
Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 7430

Cell: 905 329 1642


Lauren Kruitbosch

Community Engagement Coordinator

Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake

Phone: 905-468-6458


Curious about cannabis? Niagara College to offer ‘Cannabis 101’ community seminar series

This fall term, Niagara College is offering ‘Cannabis 101’ a community seminar series for anyone looking to develop a better understanding of cannabis.

The three-part series offered in partnership between Part-Time Studies and the School of Environment and Horticulture will take place at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus and includes courses on the history and evolution of cannabis, the cannabis plant from seed to sale, and quality, regulations and access. The courses explore the legal framework and stigma around cannabis, cannabis cultivation, sales and distribution, the difference between CBD and THC, and more.

Participants will be guided through this material by a roster of experienced Niagara College faculty who teach cannabis day-in-and day-out through the college’s Commercial Cannabis Production program, Canada’s first post-secondary credential in cannabis production. Participants will even get a glimpse into NC’s cannabis teaching and research lab, the Cannabunker.

“The cannabis industry is already beginning to transform the social and economic landscape of not only Niagara, but all of Canada,” said Al Unwin, NC’s associate dean of Environment and Horticulture. “The Cannabis 101 series is a great opportunity for members of the Niagara community who may have questions about the science and economics of cannabis to benefit from Niagara College’s expertise in this fast-growing field.”

The courses will be offered on Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m. on October 21, October 28, and November 4. Participants can register for individual sessions, or for all three, at a cost of $60 per session. Register online at

In early 2020, NC will offer a second Cannabis 101 series, an industry-focused professional seminar series for those in the cannabis growing industry or who are interested in getting involved.

Part-Time Studies, formerly Continuing Education at Niagara College, offers a variety of part-time study options for professional and personal growth in a wide range of study areas. Hundreds of courses are available online and on-campus to fit today’s busy lifestyles, taught by instructors from business and industry with up-to-date, on the ground experience and a love for teaching.

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, spirits, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit




Media inquiries, please contact:

Andrew Korchok
Communications Consultant
Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 7430
Cell: 905 329-1642

Michael Wales
Communications Manager
Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 7773
Cell: 905 328-4101


Important message regarding the Climate Change Day activities

Niagara College recognizes the profound challenges that climate change poses to our people and our planet, and encourages students who are available to have a voice in the Climate Change Day activities and demonstrations planned for September 27.

Niagara College is fortunate to have student leaders who are very engaged on climate change and environmental issues, who will also provide on-campus information and outreach at this time – recognizing that some students may not be available to attend off campus events.

Our academic operations will run as scheduled. Students who choose to miss classes or labs are encouraged to consult faculty on an individual basis.

Niagara College Teaching Brewery wins two medals at Ontario Brewing Awards


Student-crafted beers from the Niagara College Teaching Brewery continue to prove their mettle.

The NC Teaching Brewery, home to the College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program – won two medals at the 2019 Golden Tap and Ontario Brewing Awards (OBA). Its popular Beer 101 Bitter and Beer 101 Strong won silver medals in the British Bitter and Strong British ale categories, respectively.

Winners were announced on September 23 in Toronto at an event hosted by Taps Media, held to celebrate the best of Ontario beer.

“Niagara College continues to lead the way in Ontario’s growing craft beer industry,” said Steve Gill, general manager of NC’s Learning Enterprises. “These medals are a testament to the applied education we offer our Brewmaster students, who gain hands-on experience crafting quality products that are earning provincial, national and international recognition, year after year.”

“Since its inception as Canada’s first Teaching Brewery, the Niagara College Teaching Brewery has played an important role in Ontario’s craft beer industry, educating our future brewers and equipping them with the skills they will need to succeed in this industry,” said Rob Engman, president of TAPS Media, parent company of the OBAs.

Brewmaster professor Jon Downing, who led the opening of more than 100 breweries around the world before bringing his expertise to NC prior to the launch of its Brewmaster program in 2010, noted that it has been a remarkable year for both Beer 101 Bitter and Beer 101 Strong; both won bronze at the 2019 Canadian Brewing Awards.

“This really does showcase the consistency and quality of our Brewmaster students, as different classes brewed each of these batches,” said Downing.

Both of the winning brews from the Teaching Brewery’s Beer 101 series have won numerous awards provincially, nationally and internationally.

Beer 101 Bitter is the can rollout of the Teaching Brewery’s Butler’s Bitter (available in bottles), originally crafted to celebrate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The traditional light bodied, smooth drinking English style Bitter with a 4.4% alcohol content, has won several medals, including:

  • United States Open Beer Championships – gold in 2018 a bronze in 2017, silver in 2015, bronze in 2013, and gold in 2012;
  • Canadian Brewing Awards – bronze in 2019, gold in 2013;
  • Ontario Brewing Awards – silver in 2017, and gold in 2013;
  • Dublin Beer Cup – silver in 2013; and
  • World Beer Cup – bronze in 2014.

Beer 101 Strong was first brewed as a version of the Teaching Brewery’s Christmas beer, Rudolph’s Red Nose Ale. In addition to its CBA medals, the 7.5% Scottish ale’s medals include:

  • Canadian Brewing Awards – bronze in 2019, silver in 2018;
  • Ontario Brewing Awards – gold in 2016, and gold in 2012; and
  • U.S. Open Beer Championships – bronze in 2019, gold in 2018, bronze in 2017, 2016 and 2011.

Golden Boot Award

Fourth semester Brewmaster student Aaron Duff was also in the limelight at the event, as the recipient of Taps Media’s Golden Boot Award. Duff won the Golden Boot for his German wheat beer, called ‘Roll the Weiss,’ that he crafted for his third term Canadian Brewing Association (CBA) Target Brew project. Third-term Brewmaster students were tasked with creating beers according to CBA standards, and submitting them for evaluation by CBA judges.

“It was the first recipe I have ever written up so it was very surprising that I won,” said Duff, who is from a small town near Creemore, Ontario and enrolled in the program with the hopes of working for an established brewery after graduation. “Winning this award was a good confidence boost.”

‘Roll of the Weiss’ was available for a limited time at the NC Teaching Brewery retail store in August, where a rotating selection of experimental brews created by students from their own recipes are featured alongside the Teaching Brewery’s popular labels.

Duff will also receive a $2,598 cash award as part of Taps Media’s Golden Boot Scholarship for NC students. This is the sixth annual award TAPS has presented to a NC Brewmaster student for a winning competition brew.

“We are delighted to continue our scholarship support for the students in the Brewing program,” said Engman.

NC’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program was launched in 2010 as the first of its kind in Canada. The award-winning, two-year program offers extensive hands-on training at an on-site, state-of-the-art Teaching Brewery to prepare students for employment in the expanding brewery, microbrewery and brewpub industries. Located at the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, students learn from award-winning faculty and have access to on-site hop yard and local farm products to brew a full range of beer styles. Visit

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit


Media inquiries, please contact:


Julie Greco

Communications Consultant

Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 7368

Cell: 905 328 2532


Michael Wales

Communications Manager

Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 7773

Cell: 905 328 4101

Niagara author, filmmaker wins CIFF Best Screenplay award

Niagara College prof, alum hailed ‘one of the finest biblical screenwriters of our time’ 

Christopher Bessette is on a winning streak.

The multi-award-winning filmmaker, author, and part-time faculty member at Niagara College – as well as an alumnus – reeled in an award for the second consecutive year at the star-studded Canadian International Faith & Family Film Festival (CIFF) in Toronto on September 15.

Bessette won Best Screenplay for his epic television series pilot Prophets & Kings, which is being developed with Lana King, former executive of Fox Broadcasting and the Hallmark Channel. His screenplay was selected over eight other nominations in that category.

Christopher Bessette holds his Best Screenplay award at CIFF 2019. Pictured from left: Jason Barbeck, festival director; Christopher Bessette, series creator, executive producer, Prophets & Kings; Lana King, executive producer, Prophets & Kings; and Rafael Kalamat, festival director. (CIFF PHOTO)

While he has earned many accolades over the course of his career, the latest CIFF award marks his first for screenwriting. Bessette noted that the award is very significant not only to him but to the Prophets & Kings project.

“When you stop to think they gave this to us at the beginning of the project, I believe the recognition illustrates this powerful story’s incredible potential,” said Bessette. “I think this is just the start of a massive wave that continues to build.”

CIFF festival directors Jason Barbeck and Rafael Kalamat applauded Bessette’s talent and achievement.

“A scholar, a gentleman and a fantastic writer. Christopher Bessette and Lana King will make a huge splash in the film market when this project surfaces,” said Barbeck. “I am so excited to see this true to life historical story take shape.”

“It goes without saying that Christopher Bessette is one of the finest biblical screenplay writers of our time,” said Kalamat. “Prophets & Kings will be known as a classic masterpiece both in faith and secular media.”

Prophets & Kings is based on the story of King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, the prophet Elijah and historical characters found in the biblical text of Kings I and II. Its setting: 877 BC, where kingdoms rise and fall by epic battles with horses, chariots, swordsmen and archers, Corrupt leaders rule the divided nation of Samaria having forgotten their roots and the path that led them out of slavery to the promised land.

While he began penning the series last year, the inspiration behind it was more than 40 years in the making for Bessette, who has been reading a portion of the bible every day since he was 11 years old. He began writing the script, motivated to share the story in a way that it has never been told. Knowing that it could not fit into a two-hour movie time slot, Bessette wrote it as a dramatic television series with 30 one-hour episodes and plans are currently underway to shoot the series overseas.

“I knew it had to be seen as one long story,” he said. “That’s how the digital age of streaming and binge watching television shows has come of age, and made this story right for me.”

After submitting scripts for the first two episodes to CIFF, it was announced as a nominee for Best Screenplay in August. Bessette and King also took part in a movie industry panel at the film festival along with Sam Sorbo (Let There Be Light, Miracle In East Texas), Paul Lalonde (Cloud Ten Creative Services), and other special guests. International star Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves) was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award at the event.

It was a welcome return to CIFF for Bessette, who won Best Director at CIFF last year for his 2012 movie Trade of Innocents, which raises awareness about human trafficking, while cast member Mira Sorvino won Best Lead Actress for her starring role in the film.

Since Bessette graduated from Niagara College in 1984, the long-time Thorold resident has built a career as a multiple-award-winning filmmaker, motion picture writer/director/producer. His international career in the television and film industry has led him across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, as well as to Central America, Russia and Southeast Asia. In addition to Trade of Innocents (2012), Bessette directed The Enemy God (2008), which spans 50 years of an Amazonian tribe. He wrote, directed and produced the documentary Niagara: Thunder of the Waters (2016). His novel, The Mythamohre, was published in 2013.

Bessette has won three Best Director awards and 10 Best Picture Awards. His work has been viewed on screens around the world. In 2012, he was nominated by Niagara College for a Premier’s Award in Creative Arts and Design.

Since 2013, he been passing on his valuable skills and experience to the next generation of film and television industry professionals at Niagara College as a part-time faculty member. He currently teaches Directing for the Screen and Dramatic Scriptwriting.

For more info about Bessette, visit

This year marked the third annual CIFF which drew a record number of over 570 attendees, and concluded with an award ceremony to announce winners from 178 submissions, 50 official selections, 30 screenings and 14 categories. For information visit

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, spirits, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit




Media inquiries, please contact:


Julie Greco

Communications Consultant

Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 7368

Cell: 905 328-2532


Michael Wales

Communications Manager

Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 7773

Cell: 905 328-4101

Ancient beverage gets a modern twist: Niagara College helps Royal Canadian Mead develop Ontario’s first pure session meads

Is mead ready for an urban revival? Hamilton-based Royal Canadian Mead thinks so, and with help from Niagara College, the company has introduced its contemporary twist on the fermented honey drink – known as the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage – ready to create a buzz with modern consumers.

In collaboration with NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre team, Royal Canadian Mead has produced a line of Canadian craft meads, the first pure session meads in Ontario.  Carbonated, refreshing and naturally gluten-free, the craft meads have a 5.6 percent alcohol content – half the alcohol content found in traditional meads.

The first release,  a hopped buckwheat called ‘Feels Like Friday’ hit shelves at the LCBO in June and is currently selling in 86  locations; while its second release, a Niagara peach named ‘ All Day Croquet’ was packaged in early August and released in bars and restaurants, with LCBO listings expected next spring.

While mead is one of the fastest-growing alcoholic beverages in the United States, Royal Canadian Mead set its sights on growing the industry and becoming a leader in the session mead category in Canada, where there are only a handful of meaderies across the country.

“We wanted to introduce people to the category of mead, but we wanted to meet them halfway,” said Royal Canadian Mead president Matt Gibson. “People are already enjoying session beers and dry ciders, so we wanted to put mead in that same frame of reference. It’s light, crisp and very crushable.”

The crisp, Canadian meads are brewed in Hamilton using modern techniques and were developed after more than a year of prototyping and innovation.

Royal Canadian Mead turned to the College’s CFWI Innovation Centre for help in recipe development. NC is not only home to an award-winning Research & Innovation Division, but the College’s trailblazing Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus is home to  Canada’s first commercial  Teaching Winery, Teaching Brewery, and  Teaching Distillery, as well as  Eastern Canada’s first Commercial Beekeeping program with actively managed hives on campus.

“We knew from Niagara College’s reputation that they had the experience and tools to help turn what was in our heads into a reality,” said Gibson. “We thought the College’s unique breadth of knowledge of honey, bee-keeping, brewing, and winemaking would all be useful tools to create our final product.”

“We were proud to work alongside Royal Canadian Mead on this project, which not only supported innovation in the beverage industry, but offered valuable hands-on learning opportunities to our students,” said  Marc Nantel, PhD, NC’s vice president of Research, Innovation and Strategic Initiatives.

The College’s CFWI Innovation Centre first conducted exploratory research and competitive market analysis. They discovered a main demographic of urban professionals ages 25 to 40, who enjoy food, fine dining, exploring new things, and are seeking the new and unique. They also found a sub-set of target consumers: gluten-free shoppers and low-sugar/healthier alcohol drinkers.

The research team then brought in faculty and staff from the College’s wine and Commercial Beekeeping programs to assist with recipe development. They collaborated with Royal Canadian Mead to establish parameters for a first exploratory phase recipe development, which involved nearly 30 different products, then through two more development phases before honing in on four recipes. In addition to a series of batch trials, and product testing with chemical and sensory analysis, the research team conducted parallel business development work provided by the NC beekeeping/honey experts. All recipes used 100 percent Ontario-produced honey and adjuncts, such as fruit and hops.

The research project concluded with four session meads, all with distinct flavours, produced: Hopped Buckwheat (Feels Like Friday), Niagara Peach (All Day Croquet), Ontario Cherry (Quarter Life Crisis), Ontario Wildflower (Awkward Dinner).

For College winemaker and instructor Gavin Robertson, who led the research team, this was a chance to explore a new fermented beverage category. “While I had experimented with honey ferments on a small scale in the past for fun, this was an opportunity to approach mead production in a really systematic way, from the hive up,” said Robertson.

“Royal Canadian Mead was an amazing company to work with in that they understood the unique dynamics involved with working with student researchers and they really encouraged them to think broadly and creatively about the possible formulations, and used the project as a two-way educational opportunity that was effective in achieving our goals in the end,” added Robertson. “It’s so great to see all of the work by so many people result in well-received, commercial products.”

As a student in the Winery and Viticulture Technician program, Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Emily Royal was a research assistant who worked on the project during a five-month period in 2018. She helped to create the recipe for mead fermentations while conducting trials of different locally-sourced honey, and researched Niagara College-grown hop varieties and stone fruit infusions to add to the mead ferment for complexity and balance. Now that she has graduated and works at a Niagara winery, Royal continues to value the experience she gained.

“I feel that my contribution to this research project provided an incredible opportunity to experience and experiment with different types of mead, honeys, yeast and fermentation variables while creating a recipe for desired marketable beverages,” said Royal. “There is such a feeling of pride when you see something you worked on in a team, where all the work and effort you put into it is now a finished product with a label and a story.”

The research project was made possible with funding by the Ontario Centres of Excellence’s College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program.

This project is just one example of innovation from Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre which has a new home within the Marotta Family Innovation Complex at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. The new Complex, which opened in early September 2019, is poised to make great strides in the agri-food industry. View Sept. 3 news release here.

Royal Canadian Mead is a new venture from food and beverage enterprise New Skew. The Toronto-based food innovation company owns and operates a portfolio of craft food brands.

New Skew is a Toronto-based food innovation company, which owns and operates a portfolio of craft food brands. Founded in 2017 by Alex Yurek, New Skew comprises a team of former advisors to consumer food brands who recognize the dearth of innovation in the food and beverage category.

Celebrating 20 years of research excellence, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation Division provides real-world solutions for business, key industry sectors and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. They conduct projects that provide innovative solutions, such as producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing new or improved products or processes for small- and medium-sized businesses. With funding support from various regional, provincial and federal agencies, students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers to assist industry partners leap forward in the marketplace. For more information, visit

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit



Media inquiries please contact:


Julie Greco

Niagara College

Communications Consultant

Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 7368

Cell: 905 328 2532


Matthew Gibson

President – Royal Canadian Mead

(647) 965-7289

ReuKnighted: Calling all past Niagara College Knights for alumni tailgate on November 1

On Friday, November 1, former Knights will reign on Niagara College’s Welland Campus for ReuKnighted, the first alumni reunion of its kind.

Former Knights athletes, and alumni from NC’s Broadcasting – Radio Television and Film, and Sport Management programs, will come together for an exclusive tailgate party beginning at 4:30 p.m. in The Core, hosted by the Alumni Relations team. The indoor tailgate will be followed by the men’s and women’s basketball home-opener games in NC’s Athletic Centre. An after-party featuring entertainment will follow.

“We’re excited to welcome alumni back to Niagara College,” said Michele O’Keefe, associate director, Athletics and Recreation. “Alumni are integral to NC Knights tradition and ReuKnighted is our way to celebrate and engage them.”

“ReuKnighted is a great opportunity for alumni to come back to campus and reconnect with former classmates, teammates, faculty, and friends of Niagara College,” said Jana Boniferro, NC alumni engagement officer. “We’re very excited to host members of our alumni community and look forward to getting ‘reuKnighted’ as we help cheer on our NC Knights.”

ReuKnighted is a family-friendly, ticketed event, and a chance to reconnect with former classmates and teammates. Registration is now open at

The first 100 alumni to register will receive a special gift, courtesy of Alumni Relations.

Being the first alumni reunion of its kind, NC is considering future events to engage the wider alumni community, numbering over 90,000 worldwide.

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, spirits, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit



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