By Brenlee Brothers
April 4, 2017
Heather and Lenny Gallant of St. Georges, P.E.I., use free time to pay their bills.
The quirky couple are wood artists, known as Birdmouse, who make furniture, jewelery and artwork out of salvaged wood from the surrounding community.
As a business, the Gallants clean and sand wood from broken furniture, pump organs, old floors and barn boards, and transform it into something completely new.
“We’ve redefined the meaning of the word work,” said Lenny.
The couple has been working out of their home workshop in St. Georges for the last five years.
“It takes a lot of self-discipline,” Heather said.
“We don’t work very hard, but we work all the time.”
In the spring, the Gallants are expanding their country workshop into a showroom and store where people can see Birdmouse products and buy quirky stuff for their friends.
“We want to be the place on P.E.I. that does the weird stuff,” said Lenny.
When the Gallants first moved back to P.E.I. from Edmonton, they spent 10 months living in a farmhouse in Souris.
“That was challenging because it was insulation free kind of living,” said Lenny, who was raised in Stratford.
Heather grew up in Alberta, so moving to country life in P.E.I was a big change for both of them, she said.
“So we spent our first winter in that house, and we’d never used a woodstove before.”
Before moving to P.E.I., the Gallants were both working fulltime in Edmonton. Heather was an environmental scientist, and Lenny did logistics for a solar panel company.
“We would come home from work and we would cook supper, and do the dishes, and then Lenny would look at me and I would say, ‘OK, free time,’” Heather said.
Lenny was just learning woodworking, so the pair started looking around back alleys near downtown Edmonton, scavenging old coffee tables left behind by past tenants.
“So we would scoop them up and he would just transform them,” Heather said.
Every month Lenny would buy himself a new tool.
While they were living in Edmonton, Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Lenny took stress leave from work.
Since Heather slept a lot, Lenny spent his time woodworking in the garage.
When Heather got sick, all of the frivolous stuff became frivolous, Lenny said.
“So the free time idea became all of our time,” said Heather.
And now free time pays their bills.
“So that’s essentially the deal we have going for ourselves,” Lenny said.