Artist Creates Gallery in Old Bank

A series of unfortunate circumstances led artist Allison Deneau and her family to the Thessalon area, but she’s happy to be here and has recently opened The Vault, Fine Arts and Tattoo Gallery.

Vault door and entry to the tattoo room.
Vault door and entry to the tattoo room.

Allison and her family have been through a great deal over the last 10 years. Living in Windsor ON, Allison became very sick and after years of worsening symptoms was eventually diagnosed with autoimmune diseases: Crohn's, lupus and arthritis.

Then in 2017, they discovered the house they were renting in Windsor was full of toxic mould. “Everything in the house that we couldn’t fit into the dishwasher or washing machine had to be thrown out”, recalls Allison. That included all of their furniture and electronics. They tried to claim it on their tenant insurance, but the claim was denied because it was classified as "landlord neglect". They were told to fight it through the Landlord Tenant Board, a slow and frustrating process, which awarded them $1600 after 2 years. This didn’t even buy new mattresses for the family of five.

Allison’s parents had previously purchased a retirement home in Little Rapids, but were still working in Windsor while this was happening. Allison and her family, gratefully accepted their offer to temporarily move into the fully furnished home, as they really couldn’t afford to start over in Windsor.   

It didn’t take long for Allison to realize the health benefits to living in northern Ontario. Her breathing immediately improved with the clean, country air. I asked Allison about last winter, since it was a long one and nothing like she would’ve experienced in Windsor. “I loved it! I felt so much better here. The cold, dry, air was so good for me. The damp air and temperatures bouncing above and below freezing in southern Ontario are awful.”

Allison was an art student at the University of Windsor for 3 years and started doing tattoos for friends and family as a hobby.

Works by local artists in the gallery.
Works by local artists in the gallery.

In November, Allison and her husband purchased a building on Main Street in Thessalon, which was previously the CIBC bank. Hence the name The Vault, because the tattoo room is actually inside the old bank vault.

Since the soft opening in June, Allison has had a steady stream of clients from Thessalon, SSM, Blind River, and tourists who are visiting friends and family in the area.

The gallery has a variety of work for sale by other local artists and is open Monday through Saturday, closed on Sundays. Check out Allison and her tattoo art on The Vault Facebook page.