Once there was a boy who sat afloat on his motor boat on Stoney Lake. A stack of newspapers balanced the small aluminum craft. A young Dave Nolan would deliver the “Toronto Star” and “The Globe and Mail” to 75 secluded, boat-access cottages, whose owners subscribed to the delivery service that provided insight into the “outside” each morning. He was only 12 years old when he started his first business. Today, Dave is a rugged man. His hair is wild, his beard is long and his eyes are kind. He is exactly what I expect a carpenter to look like, but it’s his passion that sets him apart. It’s completely contagious.
Growing up, his family’s cottage was too small, so they hired a crew to build an addition. Dave was offered as help to haul lumber and clean debris. He got along with the foreman and was hired each summer to help build and renovate the other cottages on the lake. It wasn’t long before he began working on his own projects. As his collection of tools grew, so did his skills. He built himself an elaborate tree house using salvaged wood from old barns and cabins. “I’m pretty into the self-employed stream. I like that I can choose what I want to do on a day-to-day basis,” Dave proclaimed.
Nolan left his hometown of Peterborough to study at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He got his degree in Mechanical Engineering and also a degree in Biology. “I finished [university], and didn’t feel like I was up for a professional type [of] job. I wanted to have a place to keep my tools. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Naturally, there was a pretty girl in Toronto, which prompted Dave’s move to the city. He set up shop and began shaping metal and raw lumber into works of art. His first project was to build a large marquee sign that lit up, using 100 light bulbs. He forged Mindful Fabrication, acting as the owner and sole employee of his company. “I make things… I’m doing furniture now- primarily because it’s something I can do. People buy it, not like art. Everyone needs furniture. I realized [that] I had the capabilities to make some of the stuff people are into these days. I can build anything you can draw on a napkin…metal and wood, that’s where I focus my manufacture.”
Dave hasn’t stopped working since his first endeavor on Stoney Lake and likely won’t stop soon. After all, he has all of the tools in his shop pointing towards his success. “I did a lot of reading on nanotechnology at university. I think it’s something that is going to be hot in our lives. I feel like it would be silly not to get in on the ground floor and set up something that would do good things for the world as well as be lucrative. It holds a lot of answers for renewable energy and structural materials.”
WORDS: ADAM HENDRIK
PHOTOS: MAX POWER
HAIR & MUA: GIOVANNA MINNENA
LOCATION: MINDFUL FABRICATION