Dave Hatch, co-founder of Whistlestop Productions and long-time host of the TV show Motorcycle Experience, moved his business to Prince Edward County in 1998 as a lifestyle choice but also because – wait for it – it was more practical and convenient than Toronto. We talked to Dave about how that worked.
“We started Motorcycle Experience in 1989 through a partnership with TSN (The Sports Network.) Based in Toronto, every time we wanted to shoot something, it took two hours to get out of the city and set up in the country and another couple of hours to get back. By moving to The County we were able to do the show in our own backyard, because there’s much more here than rural scenery and open roads.
We discovered beautiful water vistas with roads running close to the water. There’s a little air field up on The Heights and an intact WWII air base that is a fantastic backdrop for photography – we use the old runways for doing time trials. It’s surprisingly diverse and flexible around here, and of course it’s beautiful, too. Not just for the motorcycle show but our other programming. Last time I checked we’d created 180 hours of programming for Blue Ant Media.
The best thing about living and working in Prince Edward County? That’s easy. The five minute commute! There’s one stoplight between my home and my office. When we leave at the end of the day, whether that’s 4:30 or 9:30, we’re home in five minutes. The activities you can jump into easily are great, too. Grab a bite to eat and go to Sandbanks to the beach, take your bike and go to the vineyards or get on your motorcycle and do a horn trip. That’s an old County tradition, doing a nice easy run around the island.
Out here life and work blend together nicely. You’re working in a great environment and, even when you’re stuck in the office, you can stop for a coffee, go out and you’re walking around this peaceful little town. You can just walk and soak it in. Say hi to people. The pace is slower. Everything is a little more personal here.
We’ve seen a lot of changes in 18 years. Younger people are moving in, or sometimes they’re moving back after leaving. It’s a great place to raise a family. Our kids were one of the reasons we came here. They were two and four at the time. They went to the small public school in our village where they could walk to school and not worry about locking up their bikes.
But going back to the convenience and practicality – which kind of surprises people – we hadn’t really thought about the geography when we first moved. Then we realized we can be in Montreal in three hours, Ottawa three hours, Toronto in two and a half. It’s a couple of hours to Syracuse for flights to New York. We found we could get anywhere easily – and there’s the train if you need it. The location really started to pay off. We send film crews to Syracuse for cheaper flights around the States and easier border crossings. We realized we don’t have to just go back to Toronto when we want a bit of city life – we can get to Montreal and New York almost as easily.
Another unexpected bonus is that clients love to visit. Oh man, they love it here. People used to say “You’re where? Prince Edward Island?” Now they phone to say “When can we come down and see you? Let’s do lunch in The County.” We invited clients to come here rather than us going back to the city and that caught on. Now they’ll come for dinner and we put them up somewhere local so they can really experience The County. Moving to The County turned out to be a real strength for doing business.
Anyone thinking of moving here – I would encourage them. Come on! You’ll love the life-work balance and you’ll benefit creatively from it. Think beyond the borders of The County. Think globally. We came here planning to ship our programs back down the highway to Toronto. Thanks to the Internet, we ship globally on a weekly basis. Our thinking has changed. We live in The County but we think internationally.
Please visit http://www.whistlestoptv.com/ to learn more.
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