AMHERST – Doug Lewis had loved working with his hands since he started working on a number of woodworking projects with his father as a youth.
It’s a passion the Amherst man has carried forward throughout his life and led him to establish his own business, Integra Construction and Millwork, on LaPlanche Street.
“I’ve always had this thing about working with wood. I see a piece of wood and I think about what I can create with it,” Lewis said in his workshop. “People may see scrap wood, but I see something I can make.”
Lewis was born and raised in Amherst, but moved to Toronto with his family at a young age. He has also worked in the construction industry in Vancouver before coming home several years ago. It didn’t take him long to go into business for himself.
He has more than 35 years of experience.
“I’ve done a lot of construction in my life, but I love doing those little custom design projects. I draw it up on a piece of paper, do the measurements, pick out the wood and make it happen,” said Lewis, as he worked on a custom-designed screen door that he’s been partnering on with Harvey Haynes.
Among the projects he has done are bars for people’s rec rooms as well as furniture, doors and other projects both big and small. One project he’s working on now is a wooden structure for a client to cover a chimney that’s no longer in use.
“Everything I do is custom. I like to design my own projects, I don’t want to copy other people’s work,” he said. “What you see is what comes from my vision of what I think something should look like.”
He also likes working on some of Amherst’s many heritage homes. He’s done several restoration and renovation projects with those buildings and also worked in the restoration of the former Windsor and Black Block buildings before they were destroyed by fire two years ago.
Lewis has also become a big supporter of the Amherst Train Station Artisans Gallery. Besides being an exhibitor there, he also built a lot of the panels that are being used at the curling club this year to display artwork from local artisans.
“We have a lot of talent in this community and I’ve tried to help out whenever I can,” he said. “My sister, Norma Jean (Watts), introduced me to John (Warner) and Ted (Evans) and they told me about the gallery and what they’re trying to do. It’s something that’s important to the community and I’ve done a few projects for them.”
Lewis said his nephew is going to come work with him and he’s looking forward to sharing his knowledge and mentoring him. He’s also planning to expand his workshop and possibly include a showroom where he can showcase some of his projects.
Warner said the Lewis has been a huge addition to the gallery, saying he and other artisans there are what make the place successful.
As for the gallery, Warner said, it’s moving into the Amherst Centre Mall in October and will be open in the former dollar store location through the end of December. He said the group needs to make a decision on a permanent home for the gallery by this fall. While the curling club was a good location this summer after the train station became unavailable, he said the gallery needs a permanent location. He’s still hoping that location will be the historic train station.