A Brand Without a Brand
Creemore, Ontario: an "off the beaten path", unassuming village, nestled alongside the Niagara Escarpment, just 70 miles northwest of Toronto. Its early Ontario charm and isolated nature creates an impression of its having been suspended in time, so much so that the local brewery boasts that it's a hundred years behind the times.
In its hey-day, Creemore was a bustling, self-sufficient village. It hosted a bank, merchant stores, a butcher shop, a hardware store and other small business that provided services & supplies for the local & surrounding farming community. With the advent of malls and box stores in the late 70's and early 80's, Creemore's residents began shopping in larger town centres for more selection and lower prices. As a result, the town's businesses shut down, one by one, and for the most part, its downtown core was slowly abandoned.
A few decades later, John Wiggins, a local entrepreneur, designer & branding & marketing expert had a vision for the village. Along with his business partners, he converted a former main street hardware store into a micro-brewery, and in 1987, opened Creemore Springs Brewery.
A New Vision to Bring Back the Old
The consumerist post-war period covered over or destroyed the unique character and many stories of Ontario’s towns and cities, their heritage sacrificed for the sake of practicality & function resulting in generic and pedestrian streetscapes devoid of soul, creating a disconnect between its residents and their surroundings akin to human beings living in an artificial world. As luck would have it, the dormancy, or “time-lock” that Creemore experienced during the late 70's and early 80's spared the town from the same fate, and helped preserve its architecture, rural culture and heritage.
The overall plan to restore Creemore to its original glory included replacing downtown stores with unique, quality business that were sustainable by external markets, and who were attractive to tourists and visitors alike. Everything from building colours to the style of garbage cans on the street were decided on based on their authentic representation of Creemore's heritage, each piece being charged with the telling of Creemore's story of long ago.
The planning committee was conscious of not over-packaging the town: it's unassuming charm and “off the beaten path location” was its brand. All that was needed was to facilitate its re-discovery.
The material found on this page is a brief cross section from the work I created throughout my 23 years in my Creemore Design/Craft studio. My goal was to blend each individual business into Creemore's story, rural culture and History.