Design & DIY

This cottager’s invention could replace the Muskoka chair

a man and a woman sitting in halihammock chairs on a dock overlooking a like Photo by Kevin Shea

“I’ve been a cottager all my life,” says Kevin Shea, of Halls Lake, Ont. “And I just find Muskoka chairs way too uncomfortable.” Fighting words perhaps, but Kevin was so prepared to stand by his claim that he designed his own cottage deck chair. He named his version the HaliHammock, giving Haliburton its own official throne.

Kevin, a “quasi-retired” broadcast exec, found inspiration two years ago while building houses in Sri Lanka. He was impressed by a local carpenter’s chair that had extra-long arms, which allowed a person, when seated, to have their feet up. “There are bugs, snakes, and spiders in the grass, so that was a good idea in Sri Lanka,” he says. “And it’s very comfortable.”

He returned to the cottage and made four prototypes, all with the same basic design: crossed legs and a fabric sling for the seat, and canoe paddles for the arms. “They were all different angles, different widths,” says Kevin. “I had people sit in them and give their feedback.” He took his notes, including a suggestion to add bolts on the sides for strength, to four local retired carpenters, and they helped him design the final product.
After posting a story on Facebook about the chairs and placing them outside various local restaurants, orders started coming in immediately. Kevin hired builders and went into production; he had an unexpected new side gig and launched

halihammock chair on white
Photo by Liam Mogan

The HaliHammock’s pieces are made from planed 1″ Haliburton pine, sturdier than typical ¾” store-bought lumber, but light enough to move around easily. The chairs come unassembled and unpainted, so buyers can customize them. The fabric seat is made from a sun- and water-resistant polyester in “Haliburton dinner jacket plaid.”

Sitting in one “makes you feel like you want to fall asleep,” says Kevin. “But they’re also easy to get out of. A woman recovering from knee surgery tested it out and ended up buying six.”

Pro tip
The arms also include a slot for your wineglass.

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