McNeill Bay icon anew, times two

Chris Hamilton

Chris Hamilton

Storm-thrashed deck chair gives birth to new one

Chris Hamilton drove around for weeks with a deck chair in the back of his truck before deciding what to do.

His wife had banished the blue Adirondack pine chair he’d built, before they met, for a former girlfriend. Hamilton thought of just leaving it beside the road, but that didn’t seem right.

Driving along Beach Drive one day the Victoria resident saw the perfect spot, a rocky outcropping at McMicking Point on the edge of McNeill Bay. Worried that a homeowner might yell at him if he left it during daylight hours, he resorted to more surreptitious methods.

“I took it down on my back in the darkness one night, down a little path and across the sandspit to the rocky point. I thought if someone stops me, I’ve got this complex plan, I’d say I’m an artist and doing an installation, putting Adirondack chairs, different coloured, on every point around Victoria.”

But no one stopped him and he left the chair at the spot.

That was four years ago. Since then, the blue chair has become famous around the region, photographed for newspapers. There are over a dozen snaps alone of it on Internet photo site Flickr.

That surprised Hamilton at first.

“I just assumed someone would take it, but people kept phoning me to say ‘you know your deck chair is still down there.’”

It was part of an iconic West Coast scene, Hamilton said.

“It represented relaxation and quiet and because it was blue, it just jumped out against the background (of the water and Olympic mountains.)”

But a February storm that saw winds of over 90 km/h sweep over the region blew the now-weathered chair off its perch, essentially wrecking it.

A neighbour showed Hamilton a published letter from Oak Bay News reader and frequent blue chair user Belinda Thomas, who voiced sadness over its demise: “This chair has had such an impact on me … Over the past year I have gone to the blue chair to have a mind chat about what was going on in my life. I have had a couple of ups and downs and the blue chair was where I went, no matter what time of day, to try to mull things over.”

Thomas previously wrote the News to say she was considering changing her will to have her ashes thrown from the chair.

Noting the effect the iconic piece of furniture had on Thomas, Hamilton’s wife convinced him to build another.

Last week he built a duplicate Adirondack chair, painted red this time. It was installed at McNeill Bay on Saturday at high noon.

Ironically, the following day a new blue chair was also left at the same spot, but by whom isn’t known.

Hamilton hopes the new red chair will retain some of the mystery of the previous version.

“I like the idea of the red, phoenix-like chair.”

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com