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Bradshaws Blog

Spotlight on Canadian Artisan: Once Upon a Tree

Meet the Artisan: Trevor Ewert from Once Upon a Tree
Come with us as we visit Trevor Ewert, of Once Upon A Tree, at his workshop near Wellesley, Ontario!

We are very pleased to have a unique and carefully curated department of handmade artisanal lines that are Made in Canada. We look high and low for Canadian items that are design driven, purposeful and special. One of the lines we feature in our Canadian section in our store are woodworks by Trevor Ewert from Once Upon a Tree. Trevor popped into our store one day about 3 years ago and showed some samples of his work - mainly charcuterie, cheese and bread serving boards made of walnut or cherry with “live” edges. The minute we saw his work, we knew we wanted to have Once Upon a Tree at Bradshaws. Now we have been selling Trevor’s boards VERY successfully in our store for 3 years, but we felt it was time to learn more about Trevor and make a stronger connection to him and to his work and to SHARE his story with you, our dedicated Bradshaws customers.

This will be our first story highlighting the many incredible items and people behind the products that sit on our shelves at Bradshaws. Please enjoy and share! 

Spotlight on Canadian Artisan: Trevor Ewert - Once Upon a Tree

Photography by Kristin Sjaarda

t’s a COLD and snowy morning in March. I’ve had plans to meet up with Trevor Ewert in his workspace just outside of Wellesley, Ontario for a few weeks now. The plan is for our photographer, Kristin, to drive in from Toronto and meet me at his workshop. I’m just hoping she’s got 4 wheel drive because it’s the morning after a wicked snowstorm - a regular occurrence in Huron and Perth County! Well, Kristin is running behind a bit, but I head out anyway so I can get there early and get started.

I mentioned it was cold, but sunny and just beautiful. A perfect day to drive out to Wellesley - home of my son’s favourite condiment - apple butter. As I wind through the most idyllic country roads, I pull up to a small house nestled in the woods. Tippy, Trevor’s beautiful herding dog, rushes to my car barking loudly. She is the welcoming committee. Trevor greets me and welcomes me inside. This is actually not his house - it’s his parents house. Father Elmer and mother Bev Ewert bought this property over 50 years ago and set down their roots here. As I walk in the house, I immediately feel welcome, and I also feel like I have just walked into a Norman Rockwell painting. Bev is pulling freshly baked cookies and scones out of the oven, the wood burning fireplace has the house all warm and toasty and Elmer is sitting at the dining room table, bird watching from the many bird feeders that he has set up around his property. I know at once that Trevor’s story is going to surpass my expectations.

We chat with Elmer and Bev about their property, and how they used to tap over 400 of their maple trees for pure maple syrup. Trevor tells me that he is looking to purchase an evaporator so he can teach his young children to tap the trees as well. As we wait for Kristin to arrive, Trevor tells me more about his background which is actually rooted in classical music. Trevor studied to be a professional violinist. He now spends his time teaching violin and making 17th century historical violin bows for members of Canada’s Baroque Orchestra - Tafelmusik, as well as for other members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, KW Symphony Orchestra and select customers across North America and Europe. This exquisite violin bows are made painstakingly with snakewood that Trevor imports directly from a dealer in Guyana, and wooly mammoth tusk that he sources from Canadian fossils that are between 10-30,000 years old before the last ice age. As you can imagine, these historical bows sell for $1800 and up, and are quite niche - so in an effort to supplement his income to have a more secure cash flow after the arrival of his two children, Trevor began making turned wood bowls. His first customer let him set up some bowls for sale in his store, and Trevor had brought along a few cutting boards with handles just for display. The day after he set these items up, all of the boards he brought in had sold, and this was when he realized that he was on to something. He now supplies Charcoal Group with his boards - a highly successful group of restaurants including the Bauer Kitchen, Beertown Public House and Wildcraft Restaurant, to name a few. 

We head into his workshop, and as you can see from the images, there are tools hanging everywhere, piles of wood, a beautiful workbench and light streaming in through the window. Now that Kristin has arrived, we move into his work space and he shows us his method for finishing his boards with a natural beeswax finish that he applies with a paint roller of all things. Trevor also shows us an incredible end grain board that he is finished using Ambrosia Maple - or what the Mennonites refer to as Wormy Maple because you can see the worm holes throughout the wood. Not looked at as very desirable by some, this Ambrosia wood is absolutely stunning to look at and makes a very impressive board. Trevor also tells us about a custom made bowl that he made for a client that sold for $3000.

Next, we head out to his other workshop which is where he makes the turned wood bowls. He shows us an enormous raw burl that he looks forward to turning, as these unusual wood “growths” look ugly from the outside, but end up being the most beautiful bowls because of the beauty of the wood grain that lies within.

It is COLD - did I say that already? Cold is not really my thing and at this point I am wondering how Kristin is even pressing the button on her camera, but we decide to hike up the property a bit so Trevor can show us the log cabin that Elmer built in the 1980’s that was inspired by Scandinavian design, built entirely without any chinking meaning that each log has to be properly carved so that they fit tightly together. As you can imagine, this is a slow and incredibly difficult process... Especially when Elmer didn’t even own a tractor at the time. He devised a rather “unique” way to haul the logs up the hill using a pulley system he created and his CAR that pulled the ropes and got those logs up the hill. Crazy, but true... and the cabin is amazing. Trevor tells us that he used to be quite popular in school because this cabin made for some pretty amazing sleepovers with his friends.

Well, we learned a lot about Trevor, where he grew up, his passions for music, nature and family and I almost didn’t want to leave! It was amazing to learn so much more about someone, and to explore the person behind Once Upon a Tree. Bradshaws now stocks various sizes of Trevor’s charcuterie and cheese boards, end grain cutting boards and beautiful turned bowls.

Funny story... Trevor tells me about an old friend of his friend that lives in Pittsburg. His friends’ parents bought him a Christmas gift while they were visiting Canada on vacation. Turns out, it was a charcuterie board made by Once Upon a Tree - purchased in Stratford at OUR store. Small world, or what?

What we’re doing with Trevor’s boards:
Giving them as gifts... Just bring in a beautiful bottle of wine, and run across the street to The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop for a gift certificate, and we’ll gladly wrap it all up for you - and we ALWAYS include information about Trevor from Once Upon a Tree along with care instructions.

Serving locally made Monforté cheeses and preserves. For this shoot, we bought some amazing Rose d'Amour water buffalo milk cheese spotted with pink peppercorns, which was incredible, their popular Piacere sheep's milk cheese and unbelievably tasty pickled apples and onions. I think I ate all the food props by myself!

Mercer Hall, across the street from Bradshaws, purchased many of Trevor’s boards and serves Colonel Collins Fried Chicken for Two and also 20oz Ontario Ribeye for two on these stunning boards making the already tasty and decadent food look really beautiful. Restaurants are also serving "Beer Flights" - beer tastings of 4 beers to customers who want to explore new tastes on these perfectly rustic boards.

Some of our customers who have purchased Trevor’s XL boards (about 4 feet long) have turned them into coffee tables, and some use them for catering events. They make a beautiful permanent table “runner” or permanent cutting board for an over-sized counter.

Care instructions for your Once Upon a Tree Board:
Rinse and dry immediately after each use. To retain moisture in the wood, use a soft cloth to apply walnut oil, mineral oil, maple polish or beeswax polish

You can shop for Trevor's boards and other locally made products in the Canadian Section of our website!