When Shannon Treanor, the effervescent owner of Gananoque, Ontario’s social hotspot, recalls her move to the small town six years ago, her emotions get the better of her.
Describing The Socialist Pig, her coffee shop and restaurant on Gananoque’s main King Street, she says, “This business changed my life, and this town changed my life,” with tears in her eyes. “I have been looking for a home my entire life. And now I can picture my grandchildren coming to see me here.”
That’s high praise for a town on the St. Lawrence River that was once a bedroom community for the intellectuals and professionals of bustling Kingston, Ontario, just 20 minutes to the west. Now, says Treanor, “Gan,” as the locals call it, is vibrant in its own right, with much of the culture of nearby Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, plus a true community feel.
“Now there are many small businesses here,” she says, “and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there are more coming because it’s actually quite easy to make a living here.”
Treanor grew up among the grape vines and peach trees of Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, but has lived in cities across the country and travelled throughout Europe. “I can tell you that this town is unique. Every single person has embraced this business,” she says of The Socialist Pig. “Everyone has responded with so much love and kindness, compassion and enthusiasm and support.”
This sense of closeness also makes Gan a fantastic place to raise children, Treanor says. “My 16 year old daughter, right in the middle of when she’s getting ready in the morning, says ‘Mom! Look at the sunrise!’ And for a teenager to say something like that, that is a wonderful miracle.”
It’s a miracle she wants new Gan residents to experience as Stone & South, a new waterfront condo on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, begins construction. Treanor is particularly excited for businesswomen like her to keep Gan growing. “I noticed about three years ago that all of a sudden, ‘That shop’s run by a woman, and that one, and that one.’ All along this street now, I would say every second shop is owned by a woman. Now this community has more people coming in and more opportunity.”