Schoolhouse Brewery profile in CBDC Ambitions Magazine 2024

Located on Water Street in Windsor, Schoolhouse Brewery is both a tourist destination and a popular gathering place for locals.

With a staff of 14 and Head Brewer, Leigh Davison, who’s been there since the start, they currently produce five core beers, a few rotating seasonals as well as a gluten-free hard seltzer. You can sample the beverages on site in their taproom and restaurant – or visit their brewtique to bring brews home.

Schoolhouse had humble beginnings, starting with Cam Hartley, a tech ed teacher who loved to brew beer on the weekends. While the business name was registered back in 2008, it officially launched in April of 2014. By the end of 2016, Cam found himself at a crossroads.

“We were the smallest production brewery in Nova Scotia for three years – kind of a ridiculous handle to hang onto – that just means you have a totally unsustainable size!” Cam laughs.

“I was working full-time as a teacher, brewing on weekends,” he recalls. “The concept was good but to take it to a sustainable business level … that would require me letting go of a very secure, pensionable government job. I had to make the call – do I take all this risk? So that’s what I did.”

The gamble paid off – Schoolhouse is fast approaching 10 years in business. Their beers are winning national awards and their aptly named Vice Principal IPA is available on the shelves of almost 50 NSLC outlets across the province. They are constantly tweaking their core offerings to make their beers even better.

“We sell double the amount of beer here than we do in 40+ NSLC stores,” Cam says. “It’s a testament to the community support we have here.”

Originally a production brewery because Cam had no prior experience in the food and beverage industry, Schoolhouse now runs a successful restaurant on site as well. “I never thought I’d be running a taproom or restaurants,” Cam muses.

In the early days of brewing beer, Cam connected with CBDC – for financial support and business consulting.

“I got a CBDC loan early on, which helped me purchase the mini beer bus,” he explains. “I‘ve got it still, it’s in the garage.

CBDC also helped with consulting – standardizing front of house procedures. I took business and accounting courses, too.”

Today, Cam does what is required to keep the business running smoothly, including deliveries in the van, plumbing, miscellaneous repair work and supervising the team of managers.

“My role is making sure they have everything they need to do a great job,” he says. “I love the people – I’ve got amazing managers.”

Cam is currently looking into a second location for Schoolhouse, but is playing his cards close to the chest when it comes to details. But as someone who was a paramedic for 10 years and a full-time tech ed teacher for six, Cam is confident he has found his calling.

“I thought I’d be working with beer but the reality is that I’m working with people,” Cam muses.

“That’s the magic of it – I’m working with the community – in the town I live in.”

"We sell double the amount of beer here than we do in 40+ NSLC stores ... It’s a testament to the community support we have here.” 


Schoolhouse Brewery in Nova Scotia

Ambitions is a publication of the Atlantic Association of CBDCs intended to promote and celebrate small business and entrepreneurial success in the communities we serve.

We let our clients tell our story.

Get In Touch

Atlantic Association of CBDCs
459 Murray St., Suite 200
Mulgrave, NS B0E 2G0

© 2024 All Rights Reserved.

Scroll to Top