Multidisciplinary artist Tiffany Howe said it is hard to visualize how her latest studio space was once the general store she would visit regularly as a kid.

The long-time local artist recently moved from her Redstone Lake studio into the former site of the Heritage House Café on Pine Street in Haliburton. The locale has undergone many transformations over the years – once one of Haliburton’s first general stores, before turning into different iterations of shops and cafes before Howe moved in. Now, it is her art studio. Howe, also a curator at the Ethel Curry Gallery, said she knew the house as both a store and café.

Now, she is ready to give the public limited access to the structure again through workshops and an online open studio event she is planning April 17-18.

“I feel really, really fortunate,” Howe said. “It’s a strange sort of serendipitous thing. Now, I end up getting to live here and getting to create here all the time. It’s just been part of my life since birth.”

The building has plenty of history behind it, with a store dating back to at least 1881, according to Haliburton Museum curator Kate Butler. It was owned by lumbermen and managed by Frederick Freeman, who took over the premises. It would eventually become Banks’ General Store, operated by Don and Jacquie Banks from 1978-1995, which is how Howe remembers it as a child living nearby.

“It’s really hard to visualize it,” Howe said. “Thinking about being this tiny kid, wandering up and down the aisles. It’s really hard to even picture it.”

Howe also said she knew it as the Wild Oak Café, featuring a stage with open mic nights. The stage area still exists, though is now part of her living room. But she said she hopes to bring the public in once again.

“I just feel like I really need to take advantage of how accessible this space is,” Howe said. “I also know that because so many other people have a lot of personal history in this space, they’re going to be curious about what’s going on here now.”

Howe has filled the walls with art and said she uses much of the space to create, making project such as mixed media paintings with recycled materials. Beyond the studio event, Howe said she plans to host art events and workshops in the future.

“I’d like to do life drawing sessions,” Howe said. “And art discussion and critiques. I know that’s another thing that people in the arts community have been asking for.”

The April 17-18 online open house will feature work from herself and artists Noelia Marziali, Andrew Laughlin Brown, Talitha-Litha Marie and Jennifer Seward, with everything available for sale. It will use photos and video with curbside pick-up.

“It was an essential hub of the community, especially back in the early 1900s,” Howe said. “Its importance to the community, has kind of waxed and waned, but it’s a landmark.”

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