Quirky P.E.I. wood artists expanding to include shop

Wood artists Lenny and Heather Gallant of St. Georges, P.E.I., are expanding the country workshop for their business, Birdmouse, to include a showroom and store — something they're calling a Quirkshop.

'Hopefully the bucks will try to chase us'

Lenny and Heather Gallant of Birdmouse live and work here in their workshop in St. Georges, P.E.I. and want to create a more welcoming space for customers. (Submitted by Birdmouse)

Wood artists Lenny and Heather Gallant of St. Georges, P.E.I., are expanding the country workshop for their business, Birdmouse, to include a showroom and store — something they're calling a Quirkshop.

Birdmouse has been making art, furniture and installations from reclaimed P.E.I. wood for the last five years. The two moved back to rural P.E.I. from Edmonton to chase their dreams after Heather had cancer. 

We wanted to make a place where you can shop for your weird friend.— Lenny Gallant, Birdmouse

"For how far we are out in the country, we get a fair amount of people coming here expecting Birdmouse to have a little store, a little showroom," said Lenny, "and we really just have cats and a garage!"

The couple has carved out a corner of their workshop for living space.  

'Step up our game'

"To step up our game, we're taking a third of our workshop and we're transforming it into an interesting, small quirky store out in the middle of the woods," Lenny said. 

Wood artist Lenny Gallant of Birdmouse does ready-made as well as custom work. (Submitted by Birdmouse)

They'll be featuring other offbeat products — don't expect red braids or lupins here — in the Quirkshop, including handmade ukeleles, painted signs and Island-made prints and T-shirts. 

"We wanted to make a place where you can shop for your weird friend," Lenny laughs.

The couple has launched a crowdfunding campaign for their renovation through Kickstarter, and are already halfway to their $6,000 goal, but say even if they don't reach it they'll go ahead with the shop.

They plan to open in June. 

'Gives it that extra value'

The Kickstarter page features a detailed breakdown of how the Gallants plan to spend the funds and what donors will get, ranging from a necklace to a large piece of custom artwork. 

Heather Gallant shows off a recent custom work created from reclaimed P.E.I. wood. (Submitted by Birdmouse)

The couple started reclaiming furniture as a hobby several years ago — using discarded pieces from an alley in Edmonton. They enjoyed it and people wanted it.

"The only difference is we don't have an alley — we have a whole province to pick from!" Lenny said. 

They've even been given an entire 200-year-old P.E.I. farmhouse, and have been slowly dismantling the wood trim and floors with crowbars, using it in their work.

"It just gives it that extra value — it's got a story that just sits in it, you know?" Lenny said, noting customers are enchanted when they're told where the wood comes from, and happy to take home a piece of Island history.

'Pretty close to the ground'

The couple even has a plan if their Kickstarter raises more funds than their goal — they'd love to add a septic system.

The Gallants live and work in their workshop in rural P.E.I., and are now planning to wall off a section to create a showroom and shop. (Submitted by Birdmouse)

"We live pretty close to the ground here," he said of the couple's rustic life on three hectares in the woods. They have installed electricity but now have only a composting toilet. 

They emphasize, they are doing what they love, realizing after Heather's bout with cancer that life is short. 

"We decided not to essentially chase the buck but to put ourselves first, chase our dreams, and hopefully the bucks will try to chase us," he said. 

They're proud their little business has kept them employed and fed — sometimes, just barely — and hope the shop is the first of many developments on their property. 

The Gallants say they need a space to show off their work, other than their dusty, noisy workshop. (Submitted by Birdmouse)

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca