Young entrepreneur makes plans for café, artisan centre, theatre in Providence Bay ’s old Home Hardware

The now vacant former Providence Bay Home Hardware will be transformed this spring into an artisan centre, café and more.

PROVIDENCE BAY — The old Providence Bay Home Hardware (McDermid’s Home Hardware), which was built in the 1930s, was recently sold to Lake Huron Fish and Chips Co. owner Matthew Garniss who plans to turn the 10,000 sq foot historical building into a café and art and wellness hub for Manitoulin.

“When it was a Home Hardware I always enjoyed going in and liked the look of the old building with its original hardwood flooring and unique features,” said Mr. Garniss. “When the hardware store moved out I had it in the back of my mind that it would make a neat space. Four years ago I made an offer, but it wasn’t accepted. Instead I built a small gallery next to the fish and chips store to fulfill my art interest.”

This summer the successful young entrepreneur tried again to buy the old hardware building and his bid was accepted.

“I love Providence Bay and I want to use the building to bring the community together,” said Mr. Garniss, explaining that he wants to create a space for people in the arts, wellness and health sectors to operate their businesses or sell their wares.

He described his vision for the new space as a market place where artists or other entrepreneurs can rent a space or a case to showcase their products.

“A lot of artists or small business owners can’t afford a whole building, but they could afford a 100 foot space,” Mr. Garniss further explained. “I have space for a few private offices/spaces and numerous open spaces for booths so I can work with the individual to develop the best space for them to rent. There will also be space within the café such as jewellery cases or wall space for art which artisans can rent, but don’t have to be present to sell. We can train the café staff on the various products and they will be able to oversee the sales.”

Mr. Garniss has already had interest from Island businesses looking to set up shop or expand their business to Providence Bay. He is currently in Toronto reaching out to potential businesses/artisans he thinks would be a good fit and will be doing the same on Manitoulin.

“I’m still waiting to see what is possible with the commercial zoning of the building, but I would like to incorporate a yoga studio, a space where artists can teach classes and a small cinema,” he added. “Right now I’m just exploring what people want and what is possible. Providence Bay is a great community, but we have a need for other things to keep people in town. I hope that through bringing new ideas and offerings to the area, we can encourage people to stay in the community longer. This will be beneficial to the bed and breakfasts, restaurants and other businesses in the community.”

“We have so many creative people in Providence Bay and Manitoulin as a whole, and I would really like to create an outlet for that creativity,” concluded Mr. Garniss.

Mr. Garniss gets possession of the building on March 1, 2016, and hopes to begin renovations soon after with a spring opening goal.

For rental inquiries are to contact Matthew Garniss at