When my late father retired, he opened a frame shop. He painted, drew and photographed and did it well. I wish I shared his artistic talents. While I don’t have his talent, I do however, share his enjoyment of the arts. When my husband Keith and I had the chance to visit Perivale Gallery and stay in the House at Perivale for a hosted visit, I jumped at the chance! As the crow flies, without any stops it is about a 14-hour drive from central Illinois to Manitoulin Island. I must say, this is some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen.
Perivale Gallery is located on Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island. The island is in the Georgian Bay, in Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. The gallery is surrounded by a beautiful garden and a cathedral of trees. The gallery was started by Shannon’s parents Sheila and Bob McMullan. Shannon shared, “My parents started this gallery in 1981 and this year we are in our 37th year.”
Located along the shimmering waters of Lake Kagawong the setting of the gallery is part of the draw. “Lots of Europeans are drawn to this area because of the First Nation population,” Shannon said.
The First Nation Peoples live throughout Manitoulin Island. It was fascinating to see their history that lives on. For us in central Illinois when speaking of Native American culture, it is mostly about past history. On Mantoulin Island, the First Nation Peoples culture flourishes, and as Shannon said, the European community is drawn to the First Nation Peoples art and culture. She has visitors from France and Germany and beyond on a regular basis.
Shannon’s late mother Sheila had a degree in architecture and went into business as an interior designer. Using her skills she took a simple shed that was on the property where they also had a cabin, and converted it into a first class gallery. Today Perivale Gallery has a diverse group of Canadian fine artists, sculptors and artisans.
The family business started as an antique shop, and then, Canadian artist Ivan Wheale approached Sheila about hanging his paintings in her shop. Soon, this now very famous painter’s pictures were selling so well that they were outselling the antiques. It didn’t take long for the McMullans to switch their business to a gallery fulltime. “Ivan Wheale is self-taught,” Shannon said, “even the Queen of England has some of his paintings in her collection!”
Keith and I both were impressed by the array of items available at Perivale Gallery. There are pictures, pottery, stained glass, and even jewelry. There is something for every age, taste and price range. Shannon and her husband Bill are both artists and she is a musician as well. “I taught orchestra and drama to middle school,” Shannon said before coming and taking over the gallery when her mother’s health was failing.
Bill fell in love with the beauty of the island which is quite understandable, so they made Manitoulin Island home. Since the family summer home had been on the island, Shannon has been an islander off and on all her life. When we were there, she was even working on a play, Shannon is multi-talented, besides being an artist and musician, she is an actress as well!
One of the neatest aspects of the Perivale Gallery to me are the workshops. Shannon brings in artists to offer artistic workshops. You can come, visit beautiful Manitoulin Island and stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast near Spring Bay (or talk to Shannon about a special opportunity she may have) and learn different painting techniques. Click on the artist workshop link to see the variety of workshops offered. I am amazed Ivan Wheale even teaches one of the workshops himself! The artists that come to teach stay in the Perivale Guesthouse while teaching, lucky teachers!
House at Perivale
Keith and I held our breath when we drove into the driveway located off Perivale Rd. The gallery and House at Perivale are quite stunning. The House at Perivale was once a cabin that Shannon said her mother expanded using her knowledge of architecture and interior design. She turned the house into a place of amazing beauty that is a combination of comfort, art and nature. Keith and I spent two-days in the guest house and loved our stay. The House at Perivale is open for adults (too many pretties for a child) and it is a great place to getaway from it all, which is just what we did. It only costs around $175 a night (Canadian) to stay.
Being a farmer, Keith had just finished the fields, and had not had a break. I don’t know of a more peaceful place to sit back and dream. From the front porch, to the light filled dining table, to the desk in the master bedroom, the guesthouse is a dream! Shannon and Bill even fed us and I tell you she is an amazing cook, how did one person end up with so many talents?
Everyone that comes to the gallery has the joy of being greeted by the two Perivale canine greeters, Molly, the junior greeter and Heidi, the senior greeter. We enjoyed their quiet companionship!
Manitoulin Island Ambassador
Bill and Shannon are generous with their praise of Manitoulin Island, other businesses and they offer ideas of places to see and things to do. Shannon shared ideas with us and we had such a great time. We ate breakfast at Mums, explored beautiful Bridal Veil Falls, found history on the island and dined at Meldrum Inn to name a few things. To be honest, you wouldn’t even have to leave Perivale Rd. if you didn’t want to. There is a lovely dock and you could kayak or just sit and veg at the guesthouse and read and relax! The scenery on the island is the star of this beautiful place. It is impossible to take a bad picture here, every sunrise and sunset is a time to celebrate.
The island takes a bit to get to. There are two ways on, one a cool swinging bridge, or a fascinating ride on a ferry which I would love to try sometime. But the long trip is worth it. I was drawn to the island by Shannon’s beautiful pictures on Twitter, and it didn’t disappoint. She is a true ambassador for the island and all it stands for.
If you get the chance, make plans to visit this beautiful place. Summer has arrived and Perivale Gallery is waiting! Open weekends from the May holiday until mid-June; then daily (10-5) until mid-September. Phone: (705)377-4847 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org