Lesley Blayney and Robin Eecloo; 18 Main St., Warkworth
A while ago, I promised to start writing a little more on my hometown of Warkworth. Just over a week ago, I got a chance to make it back home to help with the annual East Street Market and partake in the Warkworth Long Lunch. That’s when the community closes down the main street (literally “Main Street”) and dines on tables lined up down the centre of the street. (Pretty cute, eh?) It’s a bustling but fun event, and I managed to pop in to visit some of my favourite shops while I was home. So what better time than the present to share some happiness with you in the form of a feature on Camp Ho-Ba-Chee?
I grew up in Warkworth and travel back about once a month to visit my parents. A lot has changed in Warkworth in my 26-year lifespan. When I was very young, I used to stop by 18 Main Street with my bestie at the time to grab some snacks and Spice Girls bubble gum (we were trying to collect all the stickers). Her grandparents owned the grocery store at that address then. I even remember passing through the big door to the backroom deli, where they’d prep and package their meats. Today, the grocery store no longer occupies 18 Main Street, but I see that door every time I visit Camp Ho-Ba-Chee.
For just a little longer than four years, 18 Main Street has been home to Camp Ho-Ba-Chee (named after a sign the co-owners picked up at an auction and coveted for many years before their store opening). Back when I was younger, 18 Main Street was a common place to find community members catching up on the latest news; today, the space is just as friendly and community-oriented, but it has a whole new vibe.
Owned and operated by the ever-lovely Lesley Blayney and Robin Eecloo (and their furry doggy friends in the back), Camp Ho-Ba-Chee is a treasure trove of novelty finds, quirky home décor, retro baubles and some fun pieces you could picture being on the set of Pleasantville. They also have some fashion accessories for pups and handmade catnip toys for the kitties.
At one point, I was obsessed with the cat toys because my Bea LOVED the catnip carrot made from recycled wool sweaters. I bought one for almost every cat I knew and a couple radishes too! Now, their kitty treat bin features catnip-stuffed fish made from tiny socks. Bea has one already, though she’s misplaced it, so a replacement may be in order. I’ll have to sweep out under the couch first.
The styles of home décor, furniture, toys and miscellaneous pieces at Camp Ho-Ba-Chee are a reflection of Lesley and Robin’s personalities and simply can’t be pigeonholed. And that’s what makes this store one of my favourites. No matter your style—modern, shabby chic, farmhouse, French provincial, industrial—Camp Ho-Ba-Chee has something for you. The store’s vintage and retro pieces are truly one-of-a-kind, many lightly worn with love, and it’s fascinating to imagine the stories behind these pieces. They also offer fun cards; artist-designed toys, mobile sets and games; scented soy candles and bath products made in Ontario; and crafting and art workshops in their storefront (keep an eye on their Facebook page for details).
One aspect of the one-of-a-kind community that I always stress and find so refreshing is a true sense of support and happiness. The artisans and shop owners I follow show such passion and love for the work they do and the community that surrounds them. Lesley and Robin are absolutely no exception. They’re involved and inclusive, supporting their community and promoting area organizations, shops and events.
I cannot stress this enough: if you live in the Toronto area or you just happen to be near Trent Hills, take a drive to Warkworth and drop in on Robin and Lesley at Camp Ho-Ba-Chee. It’s well worth the time. If you’re unfortunately unable to make the trip, you can shop some of their treasures through their Etsy shop.
For more information on Camp Ho-Ba-Chee’s location and hours, head on over to www.camp-hobachee.com.