The ice-breakers are opening their doors

It’s harder to go ‘first.’

Many people think that if you’re ‘first’ to do something, you reap most of the financial benefits.

Might be true in the odd case, but mostly ice-breakers need fortitude, vision… and patience.

This month, five women are celebrating the fact that five years ago they broke the mould and started something brand new. A new concept. They’ve held on, determined that their model was functional and possible financially. This month they celebrate proof that it is.

Donna Buell, Anita Bol, Marie Anne Chabot, Carol Martin, Cathryn Stewart… all practitioners of natural health. My jaded Kid One refers to these as the ‘nuts and berries’ crowd. Perhaps that’s because the ‘nuts and berries crowd’ also need patience, belief and fortitude.

Donna and Anita are both counsellors. Anita also has a background in community development; Donna as a nurse. Marie Ann Chabot is a massage therapist. So is Carol Martin. In fact, Carol was an original ice breaker in 1978 when she moved to Barrie to begin the practice of massage therapy… now that was an unheard of activity back then! Cathryn Stewart is also a massage therapist who uses astrology in her treatments.

Pretty unusual stuff. Pretty unusual in 2001 when people were mostly dialed in to free coverage offered by OHIP. Paying to get well just wasn’t in the psyche for most people.

Donna, Anita, Marie Anne, Carol and Cathryn had been working for someone else and when the owner closed her clinic and moved to Arizona practically overnight, they conferred and decided to ‘break the ice’ and open a place of their own.

They chose 11 Collier St and called themselves Avalon. They reached consensus that theirs was a place for people to heal, to learn and to re-cover. They completely gutted and retrofitted five treatment rooms, a group activities room, an office admin and waiting area. Within six weeks they had ‘repositioned’ their business and opened their doors. They’re up on the third floor of the building at the corner of Collier and Clapperton streets.

Five years later, Avalon has grown. Ice has been broken. Two of the original partners, Carol Martin and Cathryn Stewart, have moved to home based practices. Avalon has welcomed a doctor of naturopathic medicine (Kerri Fullerton), and a massage therapist with a teaching component (Sandra McCarthy).

Avalon is also home to 12 part time practitioners who rent space for their own healing activities.

Yoga, Tai Chi, Irlen’s screening, Cranial Sacral treatments, and a 3D workout coach. Anita Bol is proud of the fact that so many holistic practitioners get their business start at Avalon, renting space as they need it while they build their practices.

What’s changed in the past five years? Avalon is a multi-disciplinary approach designed to treat the whole person… spiritually, physically, emotionally. “There’s much more awareness of the legitimacy of this,” says Anita. She looks back on ice breaking activities and says her partners do much less of that today. She said that all partners in the collective have learned that they must go to people before people will come to them.

These women feel they’ve reached a pinnacle as they celebrate the growth of their centre. And because of this, they’re taking on a new challenge–new ice to break–and offering the community an entire expo (trade show, if you will) dealing with the alternative health field.

Slated for next Saturday, the expo will freature lots of workshops on everything from taking the temperature of your home… how healthy is it?, to lowering your environmental impact on the planet.

An entire day of workshops, presentations, product displays, and experiences, the Avalon team has taken the expo torch from Liane Gallant whose reiki practice stimulated her to start a wellness expo several years ago.

Together with Liane’s model, the Avalon women have assigned tasks according to skills and will be offering a show that features 60 booths, 10 workshops, and all kinds of opportunity to take a look at the lasting health to be offered when the ‘patient’ takes a role in how they feel.

Dynamic. Fascinating. Inspirational. All created by ice breakers!

Not bad for a ‘nuts and berries’ group.

Thanks, Anita, Donna, Marie Anne, Kerri, and Sandra!


Simcoe County Wellness Expo
Sept 23.06
9 am to 6 pm
Barrie Event Centre
Essa Rd & Hwy 400
$7 per person $10 for two people
705 728-6021