Both chocolate lovers and cannabis supporters have cause to celebrate the re-opening of the Visitor Centre at the former Hershey chocolate factory, now a cannabis production facility owned by Canopy Growth Corp., (Tweed). The re-opening of the visitor centre represents the resurrection of a community icon, and visitors to Lanark County and Smiths Falls will now be able to pop by the Tweed factory to learn more about cannabis production, or in true Tweed style, just say “Hi.”
Few people in Eastern Ontario today won’t remember visiting Hershey’s Visitor Centre during their childhood, or the ever-present scent of chocolate that wafted through the air in and around the factory. The Smiths Falls chocolate factory spent more than 45 years handing out free chocolate samples to visitors, a tradition that is poised to continue with the re-opening of the Visitor Centre.
In many ways, Tweed’s Visitor Centre is similar to the Hershey Visitor Centre. At Tweed, visitors can walk the same halls and catwalk occupied by the Hershey visitor centre. Their visit will still culminate in the gift shop, and yes, there will still be chocolate somewhere along the way, but it’s there that the similarities end.
The new Visitor Centre is a cutting edge, trendy, funky, and appealing space with little of Hershey’s institutional feel. Instead, the Visitor Centre has adopted Tweed’s casual and hipster-ish vibe that has been appealing to cannabis supporters since its opening. Visitors (those aged 19 years and older) can stroll through the main floor space and learn more about cannabis growth, how medicinal cannabis is created, and trivia about the fascinating world of marijuana.
To add to its appeal, Tweed has partnered with the award-winning Hummingbird Chocolate to produce its own Tweed brand chocolate, available in the gift shop. Visitors can watch from the catwalk as chocolate is once again produced in the factory that holds such a strong history of chocolate production, and in the town once called the ‘Chocolate Capital of Ontario.’
Prior to its closure in 2009, the Hershey chocolate factory drew thousands of visitors a year, a tradition Tweed CEO Bruce Linton, hopes to continue in Tweed’s Visitor Centre. If Tweed’s track record is any indication, it seems likely those numbers will be exceeded; Tweed has already expanded beyond the footprint of the original chocolate factory, and employs more people than Hershey in its heyday.
Pending legalization of marijuana across Canada in October 2018, Tweed seems poised on the precipice of exponential growth and success. The Visitor Centre represents one more evolution in the customer, and experience, oriented culture that has elevated Tweed to become a leader in the burgeoning Canadian cannabis industry. There’s more to come from this cannabis giant, stay tuned.