Feature Photo by Johnny Lam
Susan and Glen Wallis are one of many creative couples that live and work together in Prince Edward County, and the County lifestyle suits their personalities, talents and entrepreneurial spirits. Susan is an encaustic artist, Glen is the creator of Wallis Awards and owns Wallis Design Builds. Together they are proud owners of AWAY in the County Bed & Breakfast.
It was a long journey for Susan and Glen to achieve their dream of owning a B & B. They searched long and hard for a potential property within a radius of two-and-a-half hours from their base in Toronto. When they “found” Prince Edward County, they knew right away it had a lot of what they were looking for including art, theater, music, food and, of course, wine! They hired an agent, explored the island and chose the village of Cherry Valley, located about halfway between Sandbanks and Picton.
The making of Away in The County was a three-year renovation of a house built in 1822, which they discovered to their delight was once the home of Alva Stephens, widely held to be the man who named Cherry Valley. Susan and Glen got a lot of support with the renovation from County locals which helped them bring the project in on time and on budget. In fact they won a Prince Edward County Construction Association Award upon completion.
Why Prince Edward County? Susan and Glen investigated other areas, but they say nowhere else had that small town feeling with so much to offer: thriving agriculture, beautiful scenery, Sandbanks, new wineries and vast amounts of water – which they both love. Glen says, “Susan is inspired by the water, you can see it in her work,” and she agrees. “My work is mostly about the land and scenery. Painting skyscrapers in the County just doesn’t go!” Her urban supporters say when they take her work home, they’re also taking a little bit of County peace.
It’s an old saying that artists love islands, and the location of the County has benefits, too. Susan shows her work in Oakville and Montreal, so the County’s location about halfway between the two makes shipping easy. Prince Edward County has long been supportive of its creative community, and Susan is involved in several organizations including Art in The County and the Prince Edward County Arts Council. She says, “It’s not just the County being supportive of artists – artists support each other, too.”
Susan and Glen made plenty of new friends and connections here, and they have encouraged old friends to move here, too. It’s not a hard sell, a community where everyone takes part and works towards common goals. A creative economy attracts similar minded people. Susan and Glen are avid members of the Athol Recreation Committee helping to put on events in their community, and their latest kick is being part of an improv group whose members are a mix of locals and newcomers – who, of course, are now locals, too! Susan says “Our getting so involved with local activities probably wouldn’t have happened in Toronto.” Check out the improv group on Facebook: “Taste That.”
The Wallises are living their dream. The County offered them the chance to live a unique country lifestyle, and they share the joy of it at their award-winning bed and breakfast. For more information on all the Wallis enterprises visit their websites: