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Axleworks: Gananoque’s cultural corner, symbol of town’s creative economy

Ontario East


In Gananoque there’s no better symbol of the town’s growing creative economy than a popular downtown business that has become a premier local arts, culture and heritage precinct.

Opened in June 2009 in a 180-year-old stone heritage building that once housed the head office of a steelworks factory, AxleWorks combines an industrial design fashion gallery and store, a funky coffee shop, and a cozy restaurant—all under one roof.

Pam Staples, Gananoque’s Cultural and Heritage Coordinator, says the three-tiered

business, which has become a popular shopping and dining destination, is a fantastic addition to the town’s growing creative economy.

“AxleWorks reflects the vision of a creative economy and has developed a successful business model that benefits their business and the community,” says Staples.

Run by Shannon Yates and Zach Treanor, AxleWorks is a popular destination among artists and art enthusiasts and has become a well-known forum for artists to display and perform their work.

The three businesses housed by AxleWorks are as follows:

• The Steel Style Garage is a 1,500sq.ft. gallery of industrial design and fashion.

• The Socialist Pig is an art deco coffee shot with suitcase shells for tables and other creative décor.

• The Pig Iron Beer & Barbecue is a cozy restaurant that offers classic comfort food in a rustic urban environment.

Built in the 1830s, the building used to be head office to Gananoque Spring and Axle, which made parts for horse-drawn carriages and was a big supplier to GM Canada in the early 20th century.

Yates and Treanor bought the property in May 2009 and decorated it with its manufacturing past in mind. The décor features combinations of wood, steel and copper salvaged from the property.

Staples says Gananoque residents are proud to have the innovative arts centre in their community.

“AxleWorks has surpassed the general expectations of a business and turned their business into a destination attracting people from the community, region and province,” Staples says.

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