14 Wesleyan Street is located in the heart of downtown; and by downtown we mean the historic district, the park district, the restaurant district, the entertainment of a classic Ontario small town, Georgetown.
In the mid 1950’s, Mr. Milliere, a visionary entrepreneur, built a simple cinderblock building for his shop, with an apartment above for his family. His shop sold the latest technological invention – the television. Little did he know that more than 50 years later, it was to become home to Circus – a company built on vision, entrepreneurship and leading edge communication technologies.
Circus opened its door in January of 2004 in a 10-x10 office above an exercise studio on Main St., Georgetown. Staff consisted of me, myself and I. But I wasn’t alone. All day long I was accompanied by the thump, thump, thump of the upbeat music coming from the gym below.
The company grew, and by 2010 we had taken over every vacant office on our floor and had annexed the public hall for photo shoots. Fellow tenants on the floor were often caught in the photo shoot as they made their way to the washrooms. Awkward.
Thinking we were being very hip and trendy, in 2009 we moved to the industrial part of town and leased a warehouse. We renovated it to create a modern and spacious facility complete with a photo studio. What we didn’t realize was we had just traded the musical vibrations of the gym for the often terrifying vibrations caused by the brick factory next door. During a mild earthquake, when ceiling tiles fell and pipes rattled, we just chalked it up to a rather large brick truck pulling out of the lot. I rest my case.
If the teeth rattling vibration wasn’t enough, we had odours. In fact, shortly after we first moved in we evacuated the building and called the gas company because we were sure there was a gas leak and an explosion was imminent. Nope. Apparently there were, and still are, evaporation ponds from the milk processing plant across the road. When it got ripe, our offices filled with noxious gases. Client visits became a bit embarrassing as we tried to explain away the sulfur-like odours. We didn’t have a dog to blame.
We needed to stick it out for five years. In year three, I walked by the old Milliere building only to discover that it had been sold and someone had started to renovate it; but based on the faded permit and abundance of cobwebs, had abandoned the project. It was love at first sight. Only trouble was, someone else owned it and they weren’t interested in selling. I courted the sale, and after six months, 14 Wesleyan was mine; cobwebs and all.
I am no stranger to renovations. I have gutted and renovated several homes but I was not prepared for the challenges of renovating a commercial building. We weren’t just renovating, we added a third floor. I will not bore you with the details of permits, inspections, variances, amendments, deficiencies, awol trades, a polar vortex and floods of biblical proportions. Suffice it to say, after two grueling years, I emerged triumphant with my dignity and humour intact – well most of it. Can’t say the same for my bank account.
On April 17, 2014, we moved into our own vibrationless, odourless offices with excitement, high hopes and mimosas. We sported bright orange shirts emblazoned with our name as we explored local coffee shops and restaurants. We walked in a group of 20 and caused heads to turn. We are Circus and we are home.
My latest noodle,