This is a love story.
Master carpenter Ian Chapman loves Vancouver Island as much as he loves building. A rare, fourth-generation Victorian, he comes by it honestly: Ian’s father and grandfather were home builders, and his great-grandfather was a stone mason.
“I’m a simple guy,” says Ian. “I love my work. I love Victoria.”
Winter salt mist high up in tall, quiet, cedar bows; Killer Whales hunting along the islands in the straight; the smell of blackberries ripening in hot, summer sun; these things create the backdrop to working and living on Vancouver Island. What’s not to love?
“I’ve never been tempted to leave Victoria, I love it here,” says Ian. “I see my family’s heritage and handiwork everywhere, and it makes me happy.”
The impressive work of his forefathers is on display in beautiful homes and buildings found throughout Broadmead, Gordon Head, and Greater Victoria. Ian’s own talent and hard work is found in high-end homes across southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
Like with every love story, there is passion: “I love that I can make something from nothing,” says Ian.
This is the joy that comes with knowing your purpose, and pursuing it with all that you have. Ian is not a sit-in-front-of-the-computer-in-an-office-all-day kind of guy.
“I like getting my hands dirty,” he says. “I like the sawdust in my beard, and the calluses on my hands.”
Initially Ian considered becoming a teacher, a traditional career on his mother’s side of the family. But at 18 he knew that a life in the classroom wasn’t for him; carpentry called. He completed the apprenticeship program at Camosun College and became a journeyman carpenter, then over the next quarter of a century expanded his experience and skillset in everything from framing to fine furniture.
“I love tools,” says Ian, who has an impressive array of every kind of tool for every kind of job. “There is something therapeutic about working a block plane against raw wood. It get’s me into the zone.”
Ian’s experience and technical expertise makes him one of the most in-demand builders sought by an exclusive clientele of home owners and high-end property developers. He typically works on one project at a time, bringing in a regular team of professional support craftsmen as needed.
Each project gets Ian’s exacting care and attention, the end goal of which is both personal excellence and happy clients. “Success is measured by the look on my client’s faces,” says Ian. “That look is what I work so hard for, every time.”
“I’m glad that I can support my family as a carpenter,” says Ian, father of two girls with his wife, Maren. “But it’s never been about the money. I would probably pay somebody to keep doing what I do.”
On a Friday afternoon when other builders are packing up and getting ready for a weekend free of the cares of the job site, Ian often finds himself thinking about Monday morning and the work that awaits him. “I’m good at it,” he says with a knowing smile.
Ask ten builders why they do what they do, and you might get a hundred different answers depending on the economy, home fashion trends, or the price of tea in China. Often it’s about the money, or choices made (or not made) long ago. Ian Chapman’s answer is simple.
“I’m not really a complicated guy,” says Ian. “I love my work, and I love where I live.”
It’s a love story.