‘Loved the view’

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recre­ation & In­vest­ment Prop­er­ties -

He did that for sev­eral years, cre­at­ing fluid out­door fur­ni­ture and cedar and cop­per pri­vacy screens car­ried by a num­ber of lo­cal gar­den shops and nurs­eries. They were el­e­gant and com­fort­able. “I was the de­signer and de­liv­ery boy. I did ev­ery­thing.”

The gar­den shops put a hefty markup on the fur­ni­ture, mean­ing he didn’t make a lot of money. Then a large Toronto nurs­ery placed a big or­der which he de­liv­ered. There were prob­lems with the pay­ment.

“It was time for a di­vorce,” says Camp­bell, who took all of his gar­den fur­ni­ture tem­plates, throw­ing them into a fire pit on his 6.4 hectares of pri­vacy on the Carp Es­carp­ment. “I had to move on.”

This is the cre­ative force, who was born in Ot­tawa, left for the On­tario School of Art in Toronto al­most 30 years ago, lurch­ing into a lu­cra­tive busi­ness: ren­o­vat­ing derelict ware­houses off Queen Street and turn­ing them into sexy lofts for con­firmed ur­ban­ists.

“I did four build­ings. I hired mu­si­cians and artists as crews and we made scads of money,” says Camp­bell. “I left Toronto 20 years ago after we found this prop­erty.”

Camp­bell and his wife, Bar­bara Hope, a spe­cial-ed­u­ca­tion teacher, hap­pened upon the Carp prop­erty by chance.

“I loved the view and she loved the woods,” he says. “The price tag of $150,000 was to­tally af­ford­able for this Toronto wacko.” The two live sim­ply. He re­built the orig­i­nal small cot­tage, which was ba­si­cally a hunt­ing cabin with a large field­stone fire­place and no in­su­la­tion.

“The Kids in the Hall paid for the first ren­o­va­tion,” he says.

To­day, there are still many mem­o­ries of the orig­i­nal PanA­bode cot­tage. Sev­eral in­te­rior walls are the orig­i­nal wood.

Through the years, Camp­bell has mus­cled the lad­der, swung a ham­mer and cre­ated a side ad­di­tion that now houses a large liv­ing room, a large en­trance and the master bed­room and bath­room on the sec­ond floor.

A sec­ond-level balcony boasts one of the best views in the re­gion, look­ing west­ward, over the farm­land and 100 rich vari­a­tions of green. The ex­te­rior is a yel­low­ish stucco, crafted be­cause he likes the tex­ture, while the win­dows are a bright red.

He has also re­con­fig­ured the orig­i­nal cot­tage, in­su­lat­ing the walls, adding in­su­la­tion, rewiring and an ef­fi­cient heat­ing sys­tem.

This man of many tal­ents has also made much of the fur­ni­ture, from sim­ple benches to a clothes ham­per made from paint-grade ply­wood that has been dressed up with fin­ish­ing strips of con­trast­ing wood.

“I don’t have a lot of money. I went to art school, not den­tal school. So if we needed fur­ni­ture, I made it.”

It is fur­ni­ture with a curvy at­ti­tude. Not many straight lines, made from af­ford­able wood with an up­scale ap­peal.

Camp­bell also built his heated work­shop to house his tools, sup­plies of wood and large work benches where he spends time each day — that is, when he’s not gar­den­ing.

Right now he is mak­ing a bed­room set for a col­league from Toronto.

“I sent along draw­ings, but it is go­ing to take it’s own form. I like to surprise,” says Camp­bell. “I like quirky de­signs.”

He has a num­ber of plans for fur­ni­ture pieces and wants to ex­per­i­ment. He just doesn’t want to be told ex­actly what to do.

Who can blame him?

The home was orig­i­nally a hunt­ing cabin with no in­su­la­tion.

A view of fields and trees from Camp­bell’s prop­erty.

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