Family First at The Bear Friend Factory

Whistle Stop Peddlers Sign

Peter McDermid, owner of The Bear Friend Factory, is in the business of making people smile. 

“You’ve never seen anybody upset about a Teddy Bear,” says Peter who started The Bear Friend Factory in his basement in 2013. The business has since grown and moved into a storefront in downtown Sparta. The whimsical historic village is proving to be a great fit for this business that revolves around bringing people together and providing an experience that the whole family will enjoy.  

The Bear Friend Factory is a place where customers can help to create their own stuffed animals on-site. This unique interactive experience allows children to feel involved in the creation of a special new friend.

“Stuffed animals are a special part of childhood,” says Peter. “Everyone has had one and you always remember your favourite.”

The store offers animals in two sizes: the smaller Buddies and the standard size Friends. There are 25 different Buddies to choose from and over 45 different Friends - the largest collection of build-your-own animals in the area. In addition to picking out an animal, customers are able to choose how much stuffing to include, pick out an outfit and select a name for a personalized birth certificate. Each animal also comes with a colouring page that can be completed and entered into a draw. The Bear Friend Factory also carries an extensive collection of animal outfits so your newly created friend will never be at a loss for what to wear. 

The Bear Friend Factory also offers on-location parties for groups of 10 or more. Building your own stuffed animal is sure to be a hit at birthday parties or corporate team building events.  

ER Buddies is a special initiative that the Bear Friend Factory has been involved in since the beginning. Peter fundraises independently in order to provide stuffed animals for ill or injured children coming into the emergency department at the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital. These stuffed animals help to calm children down and make a traumatic experience a little bit better. After the 2016 donation, The Bear Friend Factory will have provided approximately 550 animals to this program. 

After settling in to his location in Sparta, Peter found that he had more than enough room for what he wanted to do with The Bear Friend Factory and decided that he would utilize the existing space to give talented local crafts people the opportunity to showcase their products within his space. The Whistlestop Peddlers are a group of seventeen local vendors who offer a unique selection of high quality products that are sure to please everyone on your list. Products available include knit and crochet items, clothing, handcrafted wood item, stained glass, soap, jewellery, seasonal decorations, gemstones, handmade granola, gift baskets and more. 

“We wanted to keep our store fresh,” says Peter. “We wanted to create a one-stop shop for all of your gift needs, a place that the whole family could come and find something to keep them entertained.” 

The Bear Friend Factory is open from 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday – Saturday and Noon – 4:00 p.m. on Sundays. For more information visit or find them on Facebook at