Swiss Chalet, or no Swiss Chalet? This is a question that doesn’t just cause curiosity, it also causes fierce debate amongst locals about whether Kemptville is losing its small-town feel. For those not familiar with the situation, there is a rumour circulating that suggests Kemptville will soon be home to a Swiss Chalet, and possibly a Pizza Hut. I was able to find out whether this is the case, the answer to which you’ll find at the end of these musings, but first I want to share some thoughts.

As someone who lives near Kemptville, but not in Kemptville, I admit that it’s hard to see Kemptville as a traditional “small town”. It has far too many “city” stores and restaurants for this… Walmart, Mark’s, Shoeless Joes, Shopper’s Drug Mart, and a smorgasbord of fast-food restaurants are good examples. I don’t include Canadian Tire, Giant Tiger, or Dollarama in my list because these retailers are often found in smaller towns.

In a recent debate, one social media user joked that Kemptville should be called “Kempthaven”, a clear marrying of the names “Kemptville” and “Barrhaven”. Not wanting to be a name thief, I came up with my own – Kemptawa (derived from “Kemptville” and “Ottawa” for those who have trouble with word puzzles). 

One thing that Kemptville residents have to be proud of is the layout of the town. The “big name” stores and restaurants are mostly grouped together in what resembles an “outdoor mall” type setup in the northeast corner of town. It appears as a Kemptville-sized version of the Ottawa Trainyards mall. The feel of that “big box commerce” area is far different than the character of Kemptville’s downtown. Downtown Kemptville is beautiful. It’s a place where an individual, family, or group of friends can actually spend a day or an evening loving life, patronizing local businesses, enjoying nature, and consuming great food and drink without even needing a vehicle for transportation. Having a Walmart nearby doesn’t quash that feel. Out of sight, out of mind. 

Have we decided that enough is enough? Would a Swiss Chalet restaurant be “the straw that broke the camel’s back”? It seems odd that a chain restaurant would tip the scales in a community that already has so much corporate shopping nearby. That “what’s one more?” mindset is how communities evolve – for  better or worse. A good analogy is a rain barrel that has a capacity of about 1 billion grains of salt. We know that if we could magically snap our fingers and dump 1.2 billion grains of salt into it, all the salt wouldn’t fit. You would have a “heap” at the top and runoff over the sides and onto the ground. But if we put exactly 1 billion grains of salt in it, its safe to say we could drop one, just ONE single grain into the barrel without causing a fuss. Then another, and another, and another. There wouldn’t be any single grain of salt that would cross the boundary of “it fits” vs “it doesn’t fit”. But we know that a more measurable number of say… 1.1 billion grains, would definitely put the barrel over capacity. 

What do grains of salt have to do with Swiss Chalet? The restaurant would be a prime example of a grain of salt added to the Kemptville barrel. The restaurant in and of itself would not destroy Kemptville’s reputation as a quaint, small town, but it’s one of just many “city” businesses that may be built locally in the years ahead. One would be foolish to assume that Kemptville won’t have more of a “city feel” in 20 or 30 years. Whether that is for the best is a subject of opinion and debate, but my guess is that most locals are saddened by the reality that Kemptville is growing so fast. 

Now for the answer you’ve been waiting for. While new chain stores and restaurants may come to Kemptville in the years ahead, a Municipality spokesperson confirmed for the Times that “We have not received anything that indicates Swiss Chalet or Pizza Hutt are coming to Kemptville.” I guess locals can breathe a sigh of relief. 

So what should you do? Don’t just live in a small town, be a small towner! Shop at stores where the workers know your name. Go for walks and frequent Kemptville’s parks and waterfront property. Get to know your neighbours and help them out, just like North Grenville residents have always done. There is little to be done about Kemptville’s growth, but it doesn’t mean that residents’ lifestyles need to change!


  1. If you want a small town move to Bishops Mills, a lovely place in North Grenville. Kemptville will be swallowed up in the Ottawa urban spread like Ajax and Pickering have been by Toronto.

  2. Oh dear my friend… take a lesson from the Province of Quebec… it you want to protect something… name it… make it special…. Celebrate it…. Make regular investments to advance it… but do not hate and denigrate the ‘other’…. for hatred destroys all you try so hard to advance.


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