Opinion Editorial

Lakeshore Mews a creative mecca: DONNA DOUGLAS

DONNA DOUGLAS

It takes certain types of people to want the unusual. Takes the same kind of person to produce it. Both are happening in a little unknown but lovely shopping section of Barrie. It's called Lakeshore Mews and it used to be a scattering array of empty garages, back stairways to the back doors of Dunlop Street stores and apartments.

In recent years, artisans have moved in and the mechanics have moved out.

They've swept out, cleaned up, painted, added windows and doors, and as the city paved and parking-lotted the area, Lakeshore Mews earned its name.

It's the artists -- the hat-maker, the jewellers, the clothing designer, the painter -- who are giving this space true focus. What a treat to park right there, below Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery (formerly Robert Simpson Brewery), at the back, facing Kempenfelt Bay, and walk into these shops.

You'll meet Meaghan Armstrong, master milliner, designing and sewing right there. Meaghan displays the most remarkable hats. Perky little ribbony numbers, or elegant state-ment making chapeaux, Meaghan's designs are complemented by a line of men's fedoras and top hats.

Le Petite Chapeau has been on Lakeshore Mews for five years now and Meaghan takes delight in designing specifically for wedding parties, though her product line in the shop suits just about every taste. She also carries a line of vintage (yes, true vintage) gloves. Visit www.littlehatshop.com.

DoriAnne Ross is the goldsmith who contributes her unique designs to this space. While the store has regular, loyal customers, it also counts on website sales and bridal parties.

Right next door is Awkward Stage. Alana Sproule can't remember a time when she wasn't sewing.

Meaghan called her when the 'barn' next door became available and Alana quickly moved into this former carpenter's shop, set up her sewing machines, ironing board, and cutting table, and got started.

Alana uses half her space to design and produce.

She makes new creations from old styles, dismantling the traditional plaid kilt in favour of a more unique look. She found her creativity was inspired while she was working a Goodwill intake job and looking at clothes that were loaded onto racks.

"This could be so much more," she found herself saying repeatedly.

And now she's doing it, making so (or sew) much more.

Not only are customers buying one-of-a-kind pieces, but they're buying clothes that are socially responsible and low in environmental impact.

It's a win, win, win.

Awkward Stage carries jewelry by Cat Moreau and fun feathers and beads by other creative folks. Alana's creativity is boundless as she offers the large room adjoining her store to art shows.

Visit www.stayawkward.com.It's all about self expression.

Next door to Alana is Jill Price Studios. A fine art graduate from Western University, Jill's studio work, called cultural landscapes, challenges its viewer.

She offers commissions and workshops. Much of Jill's work is multi-media making strong political and social statements. You won't leave Jill's shop without having your thoughts challenged.

As well as paintings, Jill carries a full line of art cards and small paintings so every pocketbook can be tempted.

Jill's the newest member on art row at Lakeshore Mews and has found Barrie a welcoming place to live.

She's been quickly meeting the art community, too, as she curates shows and opens her doors to other artists.

There are others working along Lakeshore Mews, too. Credit goes definitely to building owners Garry McCluskey and Murray Sussman for seeing the value of an artistic community.

These artists are certainly leading the charge towards facing the water.

Thanks Meaghan. Thanks, Alana. Thanks, Jill.

On another note: Lots of interest in John Speers' Florrie book last week, but purchasing details were left off.

You can order Florrie through John Speers at 705-726-1072 or Angela Maxwell at 705-728- 5307.

Donna Douglas is a Barrie writer. You can catch her at www.donnadouglas.com.



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