From noon to four p.m., enjoy snacks and the craft market, while there will be live music in the evening.
In 2016, Chapleau residents were asked to reimagine a building with which they were very familiar, yet in some cases had not been inside of it for years. St John’s Church on Pine Street is a well-known and well-loved fixture of the community, but was ready to enter a new chapter. As a pillar of the community, the most important task in imagining that new chapter was to prioritize an open, vibrant community use of the space. But what could that use be? The best way to find out, of course, was to ask the community for input.
The original St. John's was located on the site of the old tennis court and was officially opened on July 1, 1886. The first service in the present St. John's was held on March 29, 1908, and the final cost of building it was $18,000.
An August 4th Open House resulted in many ideas about how the basement of the church could be transformed to fill gaps or address needs within the community. What about a bakery, a gathering space, a craft market, or a small business incubator? What about movie nights? A patio by the waterfront? The wish list that was collected was imaginative, inclusive, and inspiring.
Well, that wish list has now become reality.
The Rustic Bear Den Café and Market will officially open on February 25, in the basement of the St John’s church. The new manager, local businesswoman and artisan Tanya Keech, has organized a vibrant collective of local craftspeople to showcase their handiwork, and is operating a café with snacks and drinks to bring some warmth to walks along the winter waterfront. Tanya is organizing markets every other weekend and is working to bring in a regular dining feature on Fridays and Saturdays.
“It’s a very unique building, and we’ve kept many of the unique features like the posts and wood beams,” says Tanya. “The central location near the waterfront is also great.”
Jason Rioux, who bought the church in 2016, partnered with Toronto-based community consultants small to help organize the community Open House in the summer. Small is affiliated with ERA Architects, a heritage architecture firm, who joined the project to help with the design of the renovated basement. Anglican services are still held upstairs.
|Heather Campbell photo|
ERA’s Max Yuristy was at the August open house and is thrilled to have been part of the design process. “We were able to take the ideas the community had and bring them to life, which is extremely rewarding from a design perspective,” said Max. “It will be great to be back in Chapleau on the 25th to see people enjoying the café and exploring the market.”
great job in transforming the space into something we can all be proud of. I look forward to the many entrepreneurs that will be able to flourish in this space going forward.
“If we don't try, nothing will happen.”
It has been open for a short time, and I visited the Facebook page. The reviews, so far are most encouraging for the new venture.
Here are some:
"Love the atmosphere. Going to enjoy coming back often".
"Cozy atmosphere and a warm open feel. Honestly I had the best pumpkin latte of my life. Staff is extremely friendly and fun.
"Had a wonderful time."
They pointed out that while the basement space is now open, that doesn’t mean the work is finished. There are still some improvements to come, such as a wood stove for chilly winter afternoons, and, a back patio is still on the wish list. Of course, community support is also required for these new wishes to also turn into reality. If you’d like to give your input attend the Open House on February 25th.
Here are some details: The Rustic Bear Den Café and Market is located at
4 Pine Street West, Chapleau, in the basement of St. John's Anglican Church. Ph: 705-870-4587. It has a Facebook page that is updated regularly.
I extend my thanks to Jason Rioux, Heather Campbell and Tanya Keech for their assistance. On a personal note, I extend my sincere congratulations to them on this venture. My family, both Hunt and Morris, has a connection to St. John's going back more than 100 years, and my great fear was that the church may be demolished. My email is email@example.com