The first feature for the series Women of Moncton / Femmes de Moncton is a young entrepreneur named Jenna Cann. I first met Jenna a couple of years ago through her husband James, whom I worked with at the Magnetic Hill Zoo. Jenna has such an incredible personality, she is like a ray of sunshine that spreads positivity to everyone who interacts with her. Even when we sat down to talk for this interview, she made me smile, she made me laugh, and she somehow made me open up even though the whole conversation was supposed to be about her.
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Tell me a bit about yourself.
My name is Jenna Cann. I am 31 years old, born and raised in Moncton, and I am the owner of the Magnetic Hill Wharf Village.
What is the Magnetic Hill Wharf Village?
The Magnetic Hill Wharf Village was built in 1987. It’s a man-made wharf with little shops around it. It looks like there’s 11 buildings, but there’s actually only 9. They all have different siding, they each have their own little feel. There has always been a restaurant on site as well as shops in all the other buildings. For three decades, it served as a tourist destination in the Magnetic Hill Park in Moncton, NB.
How did you get started with the Wharf Village?
I’ve always been intrigued with entrepreneurship. I always thought it would be really interesting to be your own boss. The idea of birthing something or taking something and morphing it into something new really appealed to me. As my desire grew stronger to become an entrepreneur, my husband suggested I buy the Wharf Village. It wasn’t actually for sale, but my grandfather always said “A question’s a question. Humans are human. And if the answer is no, it’s just a word.” So I asked around about who owned it, gave them a call, and asked if they’d sell it. And they said yes. Of course, it didn’t happen overnight. It was a long process – it took over a year to go through the process of buying the property. We officially bought it in October 2017.
My husband and I have fond memories of the Wharf Village, having both grown up in Moncton. So it was such an interesting idea to take something that you have memories of and bringing it back to life.
In what state was the Wharf Village when you first purchased it?
After 30 years, the Wharf Village really started to age. The deck broke and things became unsalvageable. When we purchased it in 2017, half of the property was closed for over 5 years and the restaurant had been closed for 2 years. In 2016, there was only one shop left open. There were no bathrooms. There was no running water.
We were well aware that there would be lots of renovations required when we purchased the property. This is something we had to think about seriously when we were considering buying the Wharf Village. We had to question whether or not we had the tools and the knowledge to accomplish our goals of restoring this facility. And although I had no background in construction, this is a project that I was passionate about. So we went for it.
How do you balance work and personal life?
Well, given that this is our first year into owning the Wharf Village, I would have to say that the balance is not even. Work has taken over my life a little bit during the summer, but we have an amazing group of family and friends who came to spend time with us at work. Whether it was renovation, painting or doing inventory, we were able to bond together at the Wharf. And fortunately, our business is seasonal so now that summer is over things are starting to wind down. We can start prioritizing things like working out and spending time at home. As we get more comfortable through the years, I think I’ll be able to find the right balance. But for now, we live and breathe this new baby of ours, and we love it.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge was probably when was we were getting started. We called this project our business baby because we had 8 months to birth it. We bought a property that had a lot of needs and we had a very tight schedule to get everything done. When something would go wrong, a conversation had to happen immediately about resolving the issue because it affected the timeline. That was definitely the biggest challenge. But we still managed to hit our finish date!
Who inspires you?
I was blessed with an amazing family. I’ve been surrounded by entrepreneurs and business-people my entire life who know how to love and encourage me. They inspire me every single day.
My best friend also inspires me. She’s a nurse and so she helps people in bad situations every day. It’s amazing how she can witness all of that trauma and still go out into the world and be a happy person. She definitely inspires me to be a warrior, to help others, and to brave the world.
What advice would you give to other women?
Do your research, and learn as much as you can. Ask questions. Find like-minded individuals and ask for advice. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to share their knowledge and experience with you, even people who work in the same business as you.
But most of all, don’t be afraid to take risks. If it’s your dream and you’re passionate about it, just go for it. You might be scared – because fear is a very real thing – but if whatever project you’re doing makes you happy, you need to do it.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I would like for our business to be a place that supports community in Moncton, to be a spot where local enjoy visiting, as well as a spot on the map for tourists. We want to continually grow and to be a part of the touristic desire.
How we people get in touch with you?