Tales from Niagara: Great Gifts from Niagara’s Greenbelt


Tales from Niagara is a blog series focused on the people and places that make Niagara’s Greenbelt great. The series will cover everything from local businesses, to seasonal events, to life on Niagara farms. Look out for our upcoming posts to stay up-to-date and informed on exciting going-ons in Niagara's Greenbelt. 


Residents in Niagara have the gift giving game wrapped up. Going out for dinner? Bring Niagara wine. Birthday? Give wine. Congratulations in order? Wine. Friend having a rough day? See above. The variety of amazing wine and icewine in the Niagara Greenbelt is so plentiful that you could give wine for every occasion, every year, and never have to repeat yourself. And while not one single person has ever complained about receiving a bottle of VQA gold, there are so many other great gifts to be found in the Niagara Greenbelt, for the holidays, I thought I’d highlight a few.

I've profiled 5 Niagara artisans whose creations are perfect for the local lovers on your list. Whatever your gift-giving needs - these Niagarans have you covered!

Read their stories below!


Numbers_1.pngCatherine Timms  
Moore House Alpaca Farms

WOOL.jpgCatherine Timms did the unthinkable. Eleven and a half years ago, she noticed that her traditional office job was keeping her from watching her two young girls grow up. So, with a lot of careful planning, a childhood history of country living, and a desire to create a healthy lifestyle for her family, she and her husband started an alpaca farm. If you’ve ever slipped into a pair of alpaca socks, or wrapped yourself up in an alpaca scarf, you’ll notice something different about this fibre. It’s warmer and softer than any synthetic, and great for people with sensitivity to wool. It’s divine.

Raising Alpacas, Catherine says, brings on a sense of calm. They’re docile, relaxing animals, she notes, most of the time. The alpacas are a perfect family endeavour, and her daughters, now in their late teens, are still willing and ready to help around the farm.

This season, the Christmas Shop at Moore House opens on November 21st, the day of their annual free open house. All the yarns in the shop are sheared by Catherine herself and processed at Canadian mills. If they are dyed yarns, that happened in pots in her house.  

Our featured gift, the Paca Pac, is not only a delight to say but great for any knitter on your list. Alpaca fibre is generally more expensive than others, and doesn’t translate to standard patterns well. These kits take the guesswork out of the process with the perfect amount of yarn and a tested pattern designed by Catherine herself.


Numbers_2.pngCourtney Tobon
Love Raw Skin Care

Raw_Skin_Care.jpgI first met Courtney Tobon at the St Catharines Farmer’s Market, and her booth was to cute to pass by. She has a strong belief that you should be “just as healthy from the outside in as the inside out”, a belief that was enhanced by a bad encounter with a store bought stretch mark cream. After that incident, she cleared her cupboards of anything containing ingredients she couldn’t pronounce, and set to work creating skin care products using raw, unrefined and organic ingredients.

Love Raw Skin Care was born.

Courtney uses ingredients sourced locally whenever possible, and all her packaging is made in Canada. Her line has expanded to a full line of skin care, hygiene products, Mama & Baby and a mens line that includes beard grooming essentials. Her holiday gift pack is a great way to find your new Love Raw favourite. It features one ounce sizes of Cocoa Vanilla Body Butter and Coconut Hand & Body Cream, as well as a full size Peppermint Lip Balm. It can be purchased here along with the rest of her line. She’s also happy to do custom orders for teachers, coworkers or anyone else on your list.

You can find more of Love Raw at the St. Catharines Market on Thursday mornings, the Rice Road Greenhouses Farmers Market on Thursday evenings, and at these great shops.


Numbers_3.pngMary Resmini and Heather Polc
Heartmade Fibres

Heartmade_1.jpgAs little girls, Mary Resmini and Heather Polc of Heartmade Fibres were into knitting and sewing in a big way. They just didn’t know each other yet. After meeting in University, they attended the Balls Falls Thanksgiving Festival together each year to keep in touch and admire the wares. Four years ago, they decided to make a go of it - turning their combined passions into action. They made a plan to be in next year’s festival. They’ve been at every one since. Knitting and sewing became an outlet from their admittedly not so creative day jobs.

Amongst many other things, Mary sews caps, bowties and quilts, - which although they take the most time and can be the most frustrating, are her favourite thing to make. Heather creates knitted masterpieces - hats, scarves and blankets, and loves the challenge of a custom order or an edgy fashion pattern.

Growing up in Niagara, Mary and Heather love meeting their clients and suppliers. They source their fabric and yarns locally and offer free personal delivery throughout the region. You can check out their full array of comforting and cozy creations here.


Numbers_4.pngJohann Munro
Shed Pottery

Shed.jpgThe thing you’ll first notice when you arrive at Shed Pottery is Blanche. She’s a chicken, and she’ll curiously greet you upon arrival. She may even try to escort you into the studio. Entering Johann Munro’s retail gallery, you can see and feel the care that has gone into meticulously creating the displays of her wares. Stones, twine and pieces of reclaimed forest compliment and contribute to the display. Rows of mugs, plates and bowls are situated perfectly on wooden crates that Johann salvaged from a local farmer.

Her pottery reflects the scenery of her Greenbelt home, etched trees, feathers, earthen glazes and bright pops of floral detailing grace the surface of each hand made, fired on site piece.

Johann is a second generation potter, she learned from her Grandmother. It’s a beautiful story and best first hand, you can read it here. Johann is always creating, and trying out new ideas, from her recent foray into wood kiln firing to her bold undertaking of nearly 2000 plates and bowls, all individually created, for The Restaurant at Red Stone, Oast House Brewers, and El Gastronomo Vegabundo. If she’s not in her home shop, the garden or feeding her chickens, you can find Johann here.


Numbers_5.pngMike Todd
Owner and Operator, Cyril Leather and Such 

cyril_22.jpgLet’s face it, sometimes the men on your shopping list pose the biggest problem. Enter Cyril Leather & Such to the rescue.

Mike Todd is a Niagara native. When his skateboarding passion was sidelined by his knees, ankles, hips and back, he needed to find a new outlet. A long time extremely particular shopper, he had spent his younger years modifying clothing pieces to make them one of a kind and perfect for him. When Mike couldn’t find the perfect belt two years ago, he decided to create his own, and found a love for working with leather.

Cyril Leather & Such has now grown to create key fobs, dog collars, guitar straps and more, but it is this original belt that should be first on your list. Made of vegetable tanned leather, each hide and buckle is hand picked from suppliers in the GTA. This light brown belt will darken and as you wear it and according to your daily activities, which makes each one unique to it’s owner. The quality is unsurpassed (in creating the original model, Mike spent three months alone working on different techniques to burnish the finished rounded edge). Each belt is custom made and can be stamped with a short message of your choice that will stay discreet to you and your giftee.

When asked about being an artisan in Niagara, Mike's response reflected what I had heard from so many others. The artists in Niagara are supportive, and have built a community that genuinely want to see each other succeed.

You can find Cyril Leather & Such at Craft Arts Market or online here.

The five folks above are only an handful of Niagara’s many talented artisans. While they are all unique, all the artists in this blog share one thing in common, they’re working at something they love and are dedicated to their craft. This holiday season give a unique Niagara gift and support local business! And don’t forget the wine.




--Communications Assistant, Niagara Region 

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