Decorative sheep look out onto Sherbrooke street West from two large front windows. This isn’t the typical vignette that you would see in a store front that lines the street. Your gut tells you that you’re in for a special treat as soon as you approach this veterinarian clinic in Montreal’s N.D.G neighbourhood. Once you open the door and take your first step inside, your hunch is confirmed. Before you is an ambiance that is drastically different from your typical animal clinic.
In 2015, when Allan Gilmore needed extra space and decided to open up an off-shoot of his first veterinarian clinic - that has been open for 18 years- he decided to create the Annex. A unique space that can only be described as an unexpected Artemano oasis.
If it weren’t for the large dog-centric coffee book that sits on the freeform suar coffee table in the Annex’s front and main waiting area or the pet food that fills up the boat wood bookcases that line each of the brick walls, you could easily mistake the clinic for a space of a different nature. Perhaps a trendy loft in Old Montreal or a cool office in the Plateau.
But no. This is a clinic that tends to the medical needs of man’s furry friends. A place that is filled with character. That conveys friendliness, warmth and calmness just like the people that work within its walls, and especially Allan, its soft-spoken spearhead and self-proclaimed Artemano groupie.
Allan’s love of Artemano has been infused into the Annex’s décor down to the smallest details. From the lighting, to the use of small accessories, like clocks that are placed in almost every check-up room and the artwork that hangs on the walls, to the glass bowl on the teak stand and the three wood-legged stool with wool top that fits just right in a corner at the reception desk.
When asked what draws him most to Artemano, Allan expresses it clearly, “I love the aesthetic. It’s beautiful. The wood is like art. I’m draw to Artemano’s love of wood and what you can do with it.”
Allan, who has loved animals since childhood, decided during grade four career day, while visiting the Baker Animal Clinic (another Montreal vet) that he was going to pursue a career in helping animals. His dream steered off course when he completed a business degree. But once he returned to Montreal from time away spent travelling, his heartstrings were pulled back to his first love of animals. He fulfilled his science requirements, went back to veterinarian school and for the last 25 years has followed his dream.
With the Annex, Allan has created an environment where both he and pet owners feel welcomed and at ease, “I love working in this environment. Artemano furniture has soul, life and character. Clients walk inside and say ‘Wow I’d love to live here’. It’s a great vibe and feel.”
When decorating the Annex, it was really important for Allan that the tranquil and relaxed atmosphere one feels when first stepping foot inside the establishment would also be felt in the euthanasia room. “This is where pet owners and I have very serious discussions. I’ve provided medical care for some since they’ve been puppies and kittens. I didn’t want a cold, stale, characterless space.” The room may not remove the pain of having to part with one’s pet, however, its cozy, comfortable elements help create a serene, secure atmosphere where pet owners can say goodbye and deal with their grief.
Allan discovered Artemano thanks to his wife Elyse, who walked into the St. Laurent store and immediately fell in love. Before long the couple started purchasing multiple Artemano items. “We stock piled furniture from Artemano and actually built our cottage around it. The lighting is killer at night.”
Allan’s passion, commitment and life-long love of animals keeps him in the city a lot. He is constantly working. When he finds a little time away from work, he loves to spend time with his family and their pets: Hobbit, the pug; Hazel the Burmese; and Manny, the raccoon, who he rescued and domesticated a few years back and who has claimed the linen closet as his sleeping quarters.