EDITORIAL: Good Bye, 296.

The best things happen when you're relaxed.

Goodbye, 296.

Allow me please, dear HEALTH COACH visitor, a look back, one last time, on a special sojourn in my long career as a health professional. 

296 Taché Avenue gave me the opportunity to try my hand at a renovation and restoration project, and to work independently. Every day I would remind myself how fortunate I was, and that it would ultimately be finite. 

I often pondered the history of the shop since its beginning in 1911. While I worked on the renovation, many people who had lived in the neighbourhood all of their lives, stopped to talk to me. The Jewish tailor who occupied the shop for a few decades spanning the fifties through the seventies, had made a lasting impression; encouraging the ambitions of many young people.

I was most interested to know what the original shop was. The image that stirred my imagination constantly through the years was the vision of a woman in early twentieth century silhouette, coming and going from her old fashioned sweet shoppe

The unplanned and unusual development in my career is that I am now involved in a feasibility study with SEED Winnipeg, the next phase here at HEALTH COACH - the creation of a superfood confectionery business.

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Dispatched: Friday, March 14th., 2014

I have two and a half months and counting down, to evacuate my place of business. The building was sold in January. The last day possible here will be May 31st. This means finding a new place or position, financing (a business plan), and rebuilding or adjusting to work at someone else's business; no small change since I have been self-employed most of my working life. 

I am heartbroken.

Note: I did not have official notice yet about how the new ownership would affect my business. The rumour was that the previous owners (another anonymous investment group who gave me the run-around for five years - baldly lying and making it impossible for me to renew my lease; thereby making it possible for the new owners to evict me with 30 days notice) had tried to get approval to develop the three floors of rental apartments above the ground floor businesses into condos but had not been approved and chose to sell as a consequence. I had to take a pro-active position, and I realized that any renovation, condo conversion would have to be comprehensive to replace all of the original 1911 knob and tube electrics, the galvanized plumbing, and the boiler-radiator systems. I anticipated the worst. I checked for news weekly with the new property manager, but the official eviction notice came 30 days before I had to vacate the premises.

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My clinic at 296 Taché Avenue was unique. The 1911 space was long neglected when I arrived to first view it in the summer of 2002. Even though it was a ghetto, I had a vision of what it could be. I pictured a Shoji-screened treatment room, glowing in the middle of the space. 

In the end, I designed a faux Shoji wall facing the door as you enter off the street into the reception area. I realized that no North American was ready to have their naked form backlit and broadcast onto the street. But I kept the ceiling of the treatment room open and exposed to the soaring pressed-tin ceiling above, with the advantage of natural light.

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Four of the five phases that I had planned to spread across the first two years, were completed in the six week project. The first four phases included a two week restoration of the 15 foot, pressed-tin ceiling that had been untouched since 1911 and had suffered through endless floods from the apartments abovescraping and sanding the rust and corrosion before I was able to seal and then paint

The fifth phase was completed by working six months of Sundays. 

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I learned how to build walls by removing all of the interior walls. The whole front end of the shop was rebuilt after discovering that the lathe and plaster walls were falling down in chunks, the wood framework was rotten, and there was no insulation. An eight foot wall was built around the perimeter of the shop to address the decay of the original plaster walls. 

An air conditioning unit, windows, window sills, a window box and wrought-iron trellis (which was later ripped off of its moorings by an impressive, Prairie gale-force wind) were installed, the exterior facade posts were refurbished, shutters and a mailbox added, and the shop front was finished with tongue-and-groove board, painted a Maritime blue. The building owner liked it enough to reface the other shops beside mine to match.

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The four phases also included signage, carpet, painting, electrical work, including the removal of fluorescent light panels - the length of the shop, and massive amounts of electrical conduits obscuring the pressed-tin ceiling. 

It took eight days to add all of the trim using a mitre box and handsaw. Most of the work was done without power tools. I could not afford supplies and tool rental. During the last two weeks I had no money left, and friends and clients became a part of the project, delivering home cooked meals and thermoses of hot tea.

I had no renovation experience when I took on this project. The renovation took six weeks on an extremely limited budget. It was an opportunity to try my unconventional style of solving the problems that threaten and are par for the course with any creative endeavour

I was able to parlay many existing skills into this renovation. I learned something about the estimation of myself. Now, when I approach a situation outside of my experience, I may still feel intimidated, but I let myself have a look and a try, regardless. Don't underestimate yourself - always give yourself a chance.

The vision I had when I first entered the space drove the project to completion. 

pure and simple

The last project was completed in the Fall of 2012, when I used the sheets of gold, spray-painted, decorative screen that I had found discarded behind the building - material that is hard to find and comes with a special order price. The Asian-inspired decorative screen was cut into four pieces, framed with wood and fitted into the four large windows in the upper part of the wall dividing: the front of the shop and Treatment Room - from the back of the shop: Decompression Lounge, Thai matted treatment area, washroom, and storage.

Saying goodbye is one of the things we must learn to do in this life, and we must learn how to do a good job of it, along with all of the other important skills we learn and develop in a happy, healthy, and successful life.

The decorative screens viewed from 
The Decompression Lounge 
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Thank You

I am fortunate to have devoted my career to promoting health. But the therapy is not a one-way street. Being a Massage Therapist and caring for people has brought me out of my introverted self and has given me the opportunity to develop communication skills that have enriched my life. Yes, I value the practical skills and the knowledge that I have gained as a Therapist and as a business owner, but above all, I appreciate that I have had the opportunity to learn the language of love. 

The building is an historic gem and deserves to be restored - I hope they do a good job - I really should be in charge of that project too.

Valentine window - 296 Taché Avenue
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Clare Isaak

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful article, thank you Valerie for sharing. The loss of you clinic has been our absolute gain. I am so very blessed to work along side you and if for but a moment bask in you ray of love.


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