The merchants of Mill Street

February 18, 2015   ·   0 Comments

The very fine building that stands at the head of Mill Street, the Orangeville Public Library, was built in 1908, purposely as a library. In the 1980s, it was joined to the bank next door, which was constructed in 1903 and so was a similar vintage. The bank belonged to the Royal Bank which moved next door.

Nowadays, the library is very active in encouraging literacy within the community and has a large number of programs, activities and presentations of such as “living books.” These are people deemed interesting and different too, perhaps, who will engage in conversation to talk about themselves with visitors to the library over a limited period. Also authors are invited to come to talk about their own works and the habit of reading and writing generally.

There are tours into all the odd places of the library during the Open Doors event in the summer.

What a beautiful neighbourhood the stretch of Mill Street is becoming. Businesses that are brand new stand shoulder to shoulder with those that have been there 30 years or more and everything between. With the months of the road having been closed for construction last fall, many of the shops struggled. Now Mill Street is open and the merchants and businesses are looking forward to better times.

We went for a walk and several chats up and down Mill Street, starting at Broadway, to research all the features of the street and get to know the people making their living there. If we take it in order from the library, it will be easy to imagine where everyone is.

It begins with the serious business of the law and one’s money.

One of the longest term businesses on Mill Street, at number 5, is the law office of Tilson & Birchall. The firm was established in 1984 when David Tilson bought the property and began practising law there. He was joined by Judith Birchall coming from law school to article with his firm in 1985. Some years later, they became partners and later still partners in marriage. When Mr. Tilson was elected to Parliament in 1990, after serving as the local MPP, he left the law for politics and has not returned. Ms. Birchall has practised law there for the ensuing years, specializing in family law.

When the offices of Tilson & Birchall were expanded some years ago, rather than move, they opted to rearrange the walls and create accommodation for another law office, that of Elisabeth Sachs.

Ms. Sachs moved into the new premises from Broadway in October, 2010, where she is the sole lawyer. Her assistant, Ryen Ironmonger, told us they “love Mill Street, all the little shops and restaurants, which we frequently visit.” And, together, we rubbed our hands in anticipation of the opening of Rápido Burrito, the brand-new Mexican fast food restaurant, two doors along.

Ms. Sachs also practises family law. Anyone wanting to contact her should note: in  local telephone books, Elisabeth Sachs Law Office is listed under E, not S.

Next door is the money man, Stephen Monaghan. Although Mr. Monaghan has only been in the office on Mill Street for three years, he was working out of other premises on Broadway until the fire of 2010 forced him out. He was happy to find this office at that time, which had housed a similar business by the previous owner for 10 years.

Working with one assistant and a tax preparer at tax season, Mr. Monaghan offers quite a range of financial services, including all types of financial planning, life insurance, mortgage lending and tax preparation.

“I like being close to downtown…[where there are] many events to get involved in. I like being able to walk into many different unique restaurants and boutique shops. I’m a small business, so being able to support other small businesses easily is great.”

He did observe, “There is always the issue of parking but from the BIA meeting the other week, I hear that is to improve.”

Orangeville Insurances Services Ltd. at 11 Mill, has a sign on the door informing visitors that it was established in 1932.

Marlene Black, who has worked for the firm an impressive 51 years, joining them in 1963, said OIS is the “second oldest business in Orangeville, next to the monument business.”

The 83-year life of OIS in Orangeville began on Broadway under the hand of George Thompson. The firm was moved to its present location on Mill Street in 1962.

The recent construction work made life as difficult for the insurance company as it did the other business and, even now, she noted the problems with parking on the one-way street: “The owners park on the street, which doesn’t leave enough room for the customers. We need to do something about it.”

All types of insurance are covered: the needs of general, commercial and farm insurance are attended to in the Orangeville Insurance Services office.

Its neighbour, Rápido Burrito, is brand new, opening this week. The menu is Mexican as the name implies and it is a fast food place with a focus on take-out.

We had a great chat with the owner, Masih, who is not exactly a Mexican person but does have another such restaurant in Toronto.

“Our Mexican restaurant in Toronto is doing really well,” he said, “So we wanted to open another one outside of Toronto.”

Asked how they decided on Orangeville, about which they knew very little, Masih explained, “We just did the research on what there was. All the fast food places in Orangeville are the normal ones. Our focus is on take-out but all our food is fresh and healthy which we prepare when it’s ordered. We think the people will want more variety as we have to offer!”

His excitement about the new Mexican restaurant, which they have been renovating for some weeks, was infectious. It is located in the former Soulyve restaurant (which is now across the street) and has all the shine and freshness of a new business ready to impress.

The ladies’ fashion shop, Off  Broadway, “a clothing boutique,” opened its doors in November, 2011. Elegant, colourful items displayed on their hangers and mannequins, are an attractive and inviting format to the place.

The owner, Heather Burke, and her staff love being on Mill Street.

Says Ms Burke, “We’re extremely happy with the businesses that surround us here on Mill Street. It would be great to see other retail businesses opening on this wonderful little one way street.” She added. “We’re delighted with the recent changes- we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

She also commented, “The BIA and the Town have done a great job of promoting the downtown of Orangeville.”

23 Mill is home to Fromage, Fine Cheeses and Gourmet Foods, owned by Christine Patton.

“I used to run the Orangeville Farmers’ Market,” she told us, “but I wanted to do something more.”

So, she went back to university to study food security and urban agriculture. Then, she began looking around at what sort of food stores small towns in Ontario support.

She discovered: “Small towns have cheese shops. Flesherton has a cheese shop but it was the cheese shop in Georgetown that came as a revelation to me.”

So, she went to George Brown to do a course in “Fromagerie.”

Thus enlightened, she returned to Orangeville, found a great location on Mill Street and began to establish her own cheese shop. Her emphasis is on local, natural and small farms with a view to things that are new and unique.

Naturally, some products will have to come from a distance, like the beautiful olive oil from Spain and, of course, many of her cheeses, which she sources from all over the world.

She has a range of products, all of which are made to her own high standards of being chemical free and, frequently, gluten free. It is a long list of interesting items and very worthy of a visit, not only to purchase but to learn about how food is changing in a market that is increasingly demanding better quality in how food is produced.

The Mill Creek Pub takes up the southeast corner of Mill and Armstrong streets, the realization of a dream of the Beady family, Don, Lorraine and their son, Mike. They wanted to open a pub that would serve great food of high quality with equal quality service. On December 12, 2012, their license cleared and by 4:30 in the afternoon, they were pouring the beer into their customers’ glasses.

“Things are going good, two years strong,” Don Beady declared. “Our food is what we promised – snacks, pub grub, steaks and pasta – all high quality. I am pleased to say that we’re getting high ratings from everybody.”

Of staffing the Mill Creek Pub, Mr. Beady was happy to say, “We have top quality of service and food. We try to keep a good group of staff.”

For the foreseeable future, there are plans to build a meeting room.

“We want to improve,” he said. “We have the space for a meeting room. We just need to build it.”

On the corner across the street, similarly occupying the whole space, including parking, is Soulyve in its new premises. Having more than doubled its capacity to 98 seats with seating upstairs in addition to the attractive arrangement on the ground floor, the new restaurant is spacious and very open. Renovating the old Flight Deck was no small job but the results are worth the work.

The manager, Tyler Conium, said quite simply, “We outgrew the old place. We were doing exceptionally well and this is going well too.”

Mr. Conium said he and Phil Dewar, the chef and owner, have known each other “since we were in grade 10.”

Of Soulyve, he commented, “We were doing the Orangeville Farmers Market eight years ago and moved into 19 Mill Street five years ago.”

Looking forward to summer (as we all are), Mr. Conium suggested they might take some of the service outside: “get a grill out there and get the Caribbean thing happening outside.”

In a brief chat, Phil Dewar explained that he had studied high-end cooking at George Brown College and had worked at Hockley Valley Resort before starting Soulyve. Asked if the Jamaican recipes were his mother’s, he replied with a smile, “I always knew that food.”

Turning back toward Broadway, heading north again, we come to the offices of White Law Professional Corporation at 30 Mill Street, next door to Soulyve. Stephen White, barrister, talked about his son, Patrick, having joined the firm “three years this summer.”

Mr. White commented, “We’ve been here since 1985. I guess Patrick was raised with the law. I neither discouraged nor pressed him to go into the law.”

His coming into the firm was “just part of the transition. I’ll wander into retirement and he’ll be up to full speed. He made his own decision and he decided that’s what he wanted to do.”

White Law deals mainly with business law: incorporating, shareholding agreements; also wills and estate management; real estate and mortgage transactions; employment law; sometimes, guardianship applications.

In the same building but independent from White Law is Lisa Cherry, who practises criminal and family law.

The 28 Mill Street Mall is home to 14 businesses and we had the chance to speak to most of them. Although, in large part, we toured the building in order of business room numbers, we did stray from strict chronology. Our story-telling in the mall, then, gives the room number to each business.

As we walked into the mall, we took a stroll into the Pottery Parties Studio (#101) which is stacked in all sorts of pottery pieces, coloured and not and Tanya Frew sitting in the middle of it all. The business was moved into the mall before it was renovated.

“It’s like a little community on the verge of a destination,” she remarked of the mall. “We are a drop in art centre for fired arts. Some people like to try making something on the spinning pottery wheel.”

She explained the philosophy behind her establishment: “People like the experience. Over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, people can come in on their own or come with friends. Parents like to come after school with their kids and we have after schools programs. There’s always something going on. It’s a lot of fun.”

Tri County Driving Academy is at room #102. Brochures available in a box outside their office outline the policies and benefits of learning to drive with Tri County. It invites any person no matter how inexperienced a “road user” to come to them. Their lessons are MOT approved Beginner Driver Education courses. They can be reached at 519-217-8556.

Four massage therapists have settled in the mall. All take clients by appointment only.

Melissa Paporilli, Registered Massage Therapist, is available during the week and offers to book appointments on 519-943-3333. She is located in room #100.

Brankn Trogrlic is a RMT in room #103. Her sign invites people to call her on 519-94938-9288.

Heather Cunningham and Krysta Pasquale, both RMT’s, share the premises at #113. They divide their time there by using the rooms at different hours: Ms. Pasquale is there during the week days and Ms. Cunningham takes the evenings and weekends. To call for an appointment, their telephone is 519-941-7687.

They moved in June, 2013 and really like the location.

“This is a great place,” Ms. Cunningham said. “Our neighbours are really, really nice and easy to get along with. Mill Street has everything we were looking for.”

The Upper Grand District School Board has premises at room #104 for the purpose of encouraging continuing education for people of all ages and levels. Geoff Smith works with people to prepare them for completing high school in order to attend college or university or, indeed, look for a better job. The options are quite comprehensive and the courses are very flexibly scheduled. The service is free to anyone wishing it. It is well worth investigating to all people longing to improve themselves.

There are several hairdressers in the mall, each with a different approach to the subject and, seemingly, no problem attracting their own cliental.

At the back of the building, in #106, facing the parking lot, we began to meet them by chatting to the owner of Imagine Hair Studio, Lynda Benham.

“We’re old-school,” she said. “We still do perms and roller sets.”

When asked if the construction of Mill Street had adversely affected her business, Mrs. Benham laughed. “No, we have our clientele and we are next to the parking lot, so there was no problem – we were fine.”

Her clientele is generally older ladies who appreciate the comfort of having their hair done as they have always liked.

Mrs Benham said, “We’ve been here for three and a half years. We like it here.”

As we made our way back to the Mill Street entrance of the mall, the next number we came to was #115, Launch Hair, which could hardly have been more of a contrast to Imagine Hair Studio.

Sabrina Mallais, greeted us effusively. “We cater to all demographics. We have a makeup artist who helps ladies find a new look but we focus on hair colouring and cutting.”

We mentioned the dazzlingly coloured front stripes to the heads of grey hair in town and she agreed that “Ladies get bored – they get pink, green, blue – purple – they make a statement!”

She assured us, “We get a little bit of everything – keeps it interesting for us.”

Launch has just recently moved into their new location within the Mill Street Mall.

Natalie Electrolyses is found at #114. However, she is about to move to 34 First Street for the sake of a larger premises. She has been in the mall for about a year.

“This was a good location when I was just starting my business. But I’m moving in the next three weeks. Mill Street is a really nice place.”

There is a tattoo artist with his shop at #112 called All That Remains. There, the Grim Reaper sits on a throne atop a set of shelves. Asked for the connection between the symbol of death and tattoos, proprietor/artist Sandy Hutchinson replied, “Some people are afraid of dying but others are ready or even want to die and then he’s [the Reaper] a hero, see? And when they die, all that remains are their tattoos. That’s what we mean.”

Mr. Hutchinson is a self-taught artist. “If you can draw, you can tattoo,” he stated.

Biostin Pharmacy is #111, open only on Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm.

Video Surveillance, specialising in Banker Security, is located at #108. Their telephone number is 519-940-3827.

There were two other hair studios.

Blown Away Hair Salon, owned by Stephanie Janes, situated at #119, has been in the mall for five years. She specializes in “just hair” and is happy to say that she has a good cliental of regulars, saying ladies love their hairdressers and, once satisfied, always return.

Of all the beauticians in the mall, Lisa Bontelho is the most recently settled in, having had her opening  of Envious on January 13 in salon #110, after starting renovations back in July.

She does hair, chemical peels and an impressive list of beauty treatments, including laser and facials.

“We’re already booked into March,” she said.

All the tenants of the mall were pleased with the work that has been done to it and the service the management provides by way of maintenance and problem solving.

There are big happenings at 22 Mill Street, the home of MyFM, 101.5 on your dial.

Gail James is general manager of this newly established radio station, for which My Broadcasting had been negotiating for the licence to be granted. Ms. James, a long-time Orangeville resident, knows she has her finger on the pulse of the town.

MyFM is the latest in a chain of radio stations owned by My Broadcasting and this Orangeville set-up is its 16th station.

As part of an organization, the station is constrained to stick to company lines for the first six months or so.

“There have been lots of people coming with suggestions for programming – ‘could we do a show about health?’ – that sort of thing,” Ms. Jones said. “We’re really glad they’re bothering to come – where would we be if people weren’t excited about the station?”

The basis of the radio station as it stands is soft rock, adult contemporary, with all local content otherwise: “Local news first,” Ms. James assured us, “local three-day weather, sports – all about Orangeville.”

She added that they have “lots of exciting community plans. I’ve been living here for 30 years. I know the heart beat of the community.”

In a brief conversation with Sheila Duncan, communications director for the Town of Orangeville about the purpose of the street’s construction and the results, she explained the work had been all about infrastructure, replacing antiquated water piping and so forth.

New sidewalks and tent anchors for large canopies for festivals and events were also installed. The roadway will be closed again for one day only in mid-2015 to lay the final coat of asphalt and paint the parking lines.

It is agreed by all the members of this Mill Street community that they love being a part of it. Perhaps, one day, there will be a sign on the street calling it “Mill Street Village.”

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