Canvas is the medium for this Timmins tentmaker: Indigenous cultural resurgence driving demand for sewn home crafts custom, handmade canvas structures.

Date01 February 2020
AuthorKelly, Lindsay

Growing up in London, Ont., working with canvas became second nature to David Lundberg.

While still at a tender age, he and his father crafted their first teepee together. He later spent time in the historical re-enactment and ceremonial communities where he helped with setting up, taking down, and repairing canvas wall tents, teepees, wedge tents and ceremonial lodges.

It made sense, then, that after meeting his partner and moving to Timmins seven years ago, his expertise would lead to establishing his current business, Sewn Home, through which he designs and handcrafts custom canvas structures.

"Every step along my life has been sort of culminating in this," Lundberg said. "The universe just told me, 'This is what you're going to do,' and everything just kind of fell into place."

Though he started off repairing sewing machines, he soon found himself taking on small projects --"a boat tarp here, some cushions there"--until the volume of requests overwhelmed the repair end of the business.

From his 1,000-square-foot shop in downtown Timmins, Lundberg conceives and assembles his custom creations from scratch, doing all the design work himself, and even sourcing and preparing the support poles from the nearby forest.

Teepees, ceremonial lodges, wall tents, prospector tents Lundberg can make them all. If well maintained and properly cared for, one of his canvas tents can last about eight years, he said.

Though most of his clientele hails from Ontario and Quebec, Lundberg said he's got customers in every province and territory in Canada, and even a few from the U.S.

"Certainly, in the future I'll be looking to expand across the border to some degree," he said.

"But I see a lot of potential just here in Ontario."

The job that Lundberg considers his "first big break" came in the film industry, designing and making tents for the sci-fi TV series Orphan Black, which was filmed in Toronto.

Representatives for the series contacted and commissioned a number of large wall tents for their fifth and final season, which aired in 2017.

Having worked in the film industry, Lundberg was no stranger to the strict timelines of a production shoot. So, he set to work having plans for the frames drawn up by an engineer friend and designing the canvases to specification.

"That was probably my first large order that really made my heart kind of thump," he said.

"They were a pleasure to work with, and they were appreciative, and the tents ended up looking really...

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