Two Merrickville residents are taking on an innovative project that will add a hub for artisans, craftspeople and artists to the Village. Ron and Robyn Eagle were married in 2017. They chose to tour Prince Edward County on their honeymoon and came across an old refurbished barn called The Local Store, just outside Bloomfield, Ontario, that showcases the wares of some of the best artists and artisans in the area. “It was such a unique space,” Robyn remembers.
Time passed, and Ron and Robyn were on a leisurely drive last summer near Gananoque when they came across a beautiful old barn, sitting empty on a farmer’s land. The seed was planted. The duo decided to buy the barn and rebuild it on the lot behind their home on St. Lawrence Street in Merrickville, to be used as a hub for local artists and artisans in the area. The idea for Eagleview Barn had been born.
Ron and Robyn approached the owner of the barn in Gananoque, who was happy to sell it. They also purchased two other derelict barns in the area, so they could re-use the material. They bought the land directly behind their house in November, 2018, and soon began digging the excavation for the new structure. Robyn says things have been moving very quickly, which makes her a bit nervous, but Ron’s excitement about the project is infectious. “Ron just has this passion,” she says, smiling.
The couple have been very vocal about their plans in the community, and many people have expressed interest in the project. CAO, Doug Robertson, and Economic Development Officer, Jeff McNamee, have also given them their support. Ron has lived in the Village his entire life, and hopes that Eagleview Barn will be something that the community will be able to use and appreciate into the future. “We want it to be a community project,” Robyn says. “The more people we talk to, the more ideas we have about what we should incorporate.”
Once completed, the barn will be a 102×36 foot structure, with both a lower level and a loft space. The main area will be a place where local artists and craftspeople can show and sell their wares, with the upper level reserved for workshops, classes and small gatherings. Their plan for the lower level is to have it filled with tools to be used for carpentry, woodworking and other larger-scale projects. The barn will also have a 36-foot ceiling, with lots of natural light. “With the talent in Merrickville, we hope it will draw people [to the Village],” Robyn says, “It’s the people that are going to make the difference.”
Ron and Robyn already have an application in to the municipality for the lot to be zoned commercial in this year’s revision of the Official Plan. They also made a presentation to council asking them to permit the use of a small portion of unmaintained Alice Street (just off the south end of St. Lawrence Street) to get the equipment they need in and out of the lot.
This project is truly a labour of love for an old barn and the Village they call home. When Robyn retires from her job in Ottawa, she is hoping to take on managing Eagleview Barn full-time. “We’re not in it for the business,” Robyn says. “We hope to generate another hub at the south end of the Village.”
It is still early days; but Ron and Robyn hope to have the bones of the barn up by the summer. Ron will be doing most of the work himself, but they are planning to employ as many local tradespeople as possible to get the work done. “I am planning on building it to last,” Ron says. “Hopefully it will be here long after we’re gone.”