There are many ways to make a chair for Christmas, but Bob Mills keeps making them.
Every year, he does so at a shop in North Vancouver’s inner-city Burnaby neighbourhood.
“We get a lot of inquiries about this chair,” he said, gesturing at a large wooden stool that sits on a table with a wooden table and a large lamp.
“It’s so much fun to do, but it’s so expensive, and it’s not something I could do myself.”
Mills is a longtime furniture manufacturer in B.C. The company started in Balsall, B.K., and moved to Burnaby in the 1960s.
He now works at a nearby manufacturing plant, where he manufactures furniture from the ground up, making everything from tables to chairs.
Mills’ passion for making chairs dates back to childhood.
“I grew up in an area called Burnaby, so I’ve always had an affinity for building things, and I think that’s what got me into this business,” he explained.
“For me, it’s a way of getting out of the house, and that’s the reason why I did this for so long.”
Mills says that the chair he makes is an example of a chair that’s been around for generations.
“That’s what I’ve been looking for,” he added.
“And it’s really nice to make it, because it’s nice to have something you can put down and say, ‘Oh, that’s where I come from.'”
‘It’s very comfortable’ Mills said he first started making chairs at age eight, after the family had moved to a small town in northern Ontario.
“They had a house in Burnaby that we lived in for a while, and we were able to build a lot, and a lot was in the garage, so it was pretty comfortable,” he recalled.
“But we didn’t like the furniture.”
Mills eventually moved to the city, where his wife, Carol, and their four children moved to when he was a teenager.
“At first, we wanted to buy a house, but then we thought about building it ourselves and we thought, ‘Well, that would be a lot nicer,’ ” he recalled, adding that he wanted the chairs to feel comfortable.
“When you sit on them, it feels very comfortable.”
Mills began experimenting with different kinds of chairs for Christmas.
He began making a more modern design, which had the ability to support four people, and then he moved on to making chairs for a more traditional Christmas style, where two people sit.
“The first Christmas chair that we made was called the ‘Merry Bean Chair,’ and that was just really a fun thing to do for our family,” Mills said.
“You could sit down and watch Christmas movies or things like that, or you could sit and have a beer with friends and enjoy a bit of socializing.”
Mills also makes a range of different kinds to cater to different tastes, and each chair has a specific price point.
“One of the best parts of Christmas is the time that you get to sit on the chair,” Mills added.
Mills, who was born in Balingall, said he enjoys making the chair because it “makes it so much more of a family experience.”
He said it’s also an interesting way to spend Christmas.
“My family is always looking forward to it because we’re always looking for something new and exciting, and the idea that it’s Christmas and there’s this big pile of presents around the house and people waiting for presents is always exciting,” Mills explained.
Mills said his wife and kids would sometimes go into the shop, asking for the chairs.
“Our whole family goes to this store all the time, so we just kind of sit down there and have fun and watch a movie or have some drinks and chat and make new friends,” he noted.
Mills also said he is always a bit surprised when he hears of people who make their own chairs.
He said that he’s often asked how he does it, but he always responds with a chuckle.
“Most people are very surprised that I can do it,” he joked.
“If it’s an old chair, I think I’m an idiot.”
Mills’ Christmas shopping has become a bit more organized, too.
“Christmas is very important for us.
It’s just so easy to make things.
So, I’ve done quite a bit to make sure that I’m always able to stock up on things that I think will make a great Christmas,” he concluded.
“So, yeah, it does make a lot more sense for me to make my own chairs.”
CBC News is reporting from Burnaby on the first day of Christmas, with a report from the CBC’s Joanne Brown.