Our History

“Creating positive learning spaces for our students to engage with each other, grow, and feel confident in French is at the core of everything we do at Les Petites Pommes.”

—Mary Clements

Founded by Mary Clements in 2009, Les Petites Pommes started as a small summer camp in Hamilton, Ontario, and has since grown into a company that serves students and families across the country and all throughout the year. Our award-winning programs specialize in creating curriculum and programs to help students learn, practice and succeed at French.

What started as a short term project to run a French summer camp during Mary’s final year at McMaster University led to building a company with a long-term commitment to creating positive French learning opportunities for students of all ages and skill levels.

Mary’s journey through French immersion was not an easy one. Her mother and father struggled with being able to help her as they could not speak French and often had to advocate for creative solutions with teachers to help her succeed during elementary school. Out of this desire to help students that might similarly be struggling, the idea for Les Petites Pommes was born.

Today, helping our students work towards French language mastery, while creating a sense of confidence, community and compassion is at the heart of what Mary and her team does. They are are enthusiastic allies in the pursuit of helping facilitate the big dreams and goals of their students!

2009 — This was the beginning of Les Petites Pommes. Through the help of Summer Company, a program offered by the Small Business Enterprise Centre, Mary launched the first summer camp with 1 staff member at 430 York Blvd. in Hamilton, Ontario.

2010 — At the request of parents and students, March Break Camp was created. A program that was only intended to run for one summer turned into a second summer and thrived as we grew from 1 staff member to 4 and from 50 campers to 120 awesome campers!

2011 — We outgrew our location on York Blvd. and found a new home at 215 Cline Ave N. (Temple Anshe Sholom) in Westdale near McMaster University. At the request of parents, we also launched Winter Camp.

2012 — As more families attended our summer camp, the demand for extra support in French throughout the school year grew. We expanded our after-school tutoring program while also adding beginner and intermediate adult language classes.

2014 — At the request of our students who had been coming to camp since the very beginning, we created a Leadership Camp. We also added PA Day Camp sessions throughout the year.

2016 — We hired a full-time director, John Burke, for our Hamilton location. One of his first ventures was the creation of a new prep-program geared towards 3-5 years-olds. We also offered a new Soccer Camp that summer!

2017 — This year brought the grand opening of the Les Petites Pommes Summer Camp in Guelph, Ontario.

2018 — This year brought the grand opening of the Les Petites Pommes Summer Camp in Palmerston, Ontario.

2019 — We recruited a team of awesome travelling teachers to run a series pop-up Summer Camp programs in Burlington, Lindsay, Brantford, Guelph, and Palmerston. During the year, our tutoring team had grown to 7 teachers.

2020 — This summer, our camps were scheduled with students registered in Brantford, Waterloo, Lindsay, Palmerston, Guelph and Hamilton. All of these camps were moved online in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. We had our first online Summer Camp with over 200 students from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island, volunteered our time through our French Chat program to give students opportunities to practice speaking French before online had started, hired 12 new teachers, and realized a dream project of ours: a French book series!

2021 — We returned to in-person camps while consecutively running online camps for the Hamilton Wentworth District Catholic School Board. Our book project team continued to grow and work on our 2nd and third books in the series. We also delivered a special French high school curriculum for SiTE School, a private high school from Dundas, Ontario. We piloted and started our French online group membership program called French Learning Circle to help students fill in the gaps in French reading and speaking that were culminating from the pandemic.

2022 — With a release party at the Westdale Theatre in June, we presented our first book, Chez Mamie! We also started our Les Petites Pommes Scholarship to help allow more students to have support in French through our online and in-person summer camp programs. Les Petites Pommes also continued to deliver specialized curriculums including Rosseau Lake College, located in Muskoka, Ontario, as well as delivering our French Learning Circle programs exclusively for the Waterloo Catholic School Board.

2023 — Our founder, Mary Clements, was nominated as a YWCA Women of Distinction. On top of our regular camp and tutoring programs, we continued to deliver specialized French curriculums to Rosseau Lake College.

2024 — Our 15-year anniversary!