Council encouraged to promote Canada’s Chocolate Town branding

St. Stephen – St. Stephen is being encouraged to embrace its designation as Canada’s Chocolate Town, and to encourage more tourism by expanding on the brand.

Chief administrative officer Jeff Renaud suggested to council the town needed to step up its game and take ownership of the Canada’s Chocolate Town branding.

He noted when he arrived in St. Stephen with his daughter “who was super excited about relocating to Canada’s Chocolate Town,” she was disappointed when she got here and “didn’t see what she thought she’d see.”

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“Maybe we’re missing an element about what Canada’s Chocolate Town could mean for tourism for the community.”

Renaud said he lived in Dawson City, known as Canada’s Gold Rush Capital.

“We owned that. Everything we did was furtherance of that, right down to having wooden sidewalks and controlling the outside facades of new buildings in town to coincide with the gold rush era.

“I think there is an opportunity here to re-invigorate that branding should we choose to do it in a similar way,” stated Renaud.

“If that’s going to be one of our brands, and one we’re going to use, we should take ownership of it and it should affect the way we look at our community and the way we
design our policy programs and quite rightly our appearance.”

He noted Hershey, Penn., has embraced the Hershey chocolate theme right down to having its street lights in the shape of Hershey kisses and the brand name stamped on sidewalks as if they were chocolate bars.

Renaud suggested St. Stephen’s tourism and promotion committee be tasked with holding a brain storming session asking those participating what they would envision in a scene where they were walking through Canada’s Chocolate Town.

He encouraged them to look at iconic products made by Ganong Bros., Limited. “Let the creativity flow.” Renaud said that meeting could lead to bigger discussions.

Renaud said part of the idea for his push for more use of the chocolate town branding
came from attending a meeting with the David Alison Ganong Chocolate Park playground
designer, and local school children.

The students suggested the playground equipment have a chocolate factory theme.

“The kids are telling us they’re grabbing onto this branding. If the kids are telling us that they’re connected to it, then we should make sure we’re connected to it and really push it as far as we can,” stated Renaud.

Mayor Allan MacEachern suggested council should keep the branding in mind when
considering purchases like new street signs, noted those in McAdam depicted trains, promoting the community’s railways heritage.

He also said the town should think about the branding when naming streets, suggesting
Chicken Bone Lane as one.

Coun. David Hyslop said perhaps council should revisit an idea by former councillor Al Corbett who years ago suggested the town erect a giant pink chicken bone at the chocolate
park.

“We’ve got to think that way,” said MacEachern. “Every little change we make should
be connected to that. I think it’s a great thing to be thinking about.”

Deputy Mayor Jason Carr said he agreed with Renaud’s suggestion that the town could continue to use its slogan “The Middle of Everywhere” for residential recruitment, but
capitalize more on the Canada’s Chocolate Town branding.

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Kathy Bockus
Journalist Kathy Bockus is based in St. Stephen and has worked for The Saint Croix Courier as a general news reporter and feature writer for the past 15 years. She began her lengthy newspaper career in 1974 with a daily in Saint John. Bockus says she always jokes being a reporter is a licence to be nosey, but firmly believes that everyone has a story to tell. She can be contacted at 321-0759.