What began as a lark turned into a serious competition for Halifax artist Kyle Jackson who was pitted against other contestants vying for top honours in this year’s Canada’s Handyman Challenge.
Jackson said he saw an ad on Kijiji for the Halifax auditions and figured he’d give it a go.
“I’ve done handyman work and carpentry for years, so I know my way around tools. Plus, I build most of the things I paint, so I like working with wood,” he said.
What Jackson didn’t know was anything about the show or its star judges, only that the top prize was $25,000.
Teaming up as judges for this season’s Canada’s Handyman Challenge are HGTV celebrities Bryan Baeumler (Leave It To Bryan), Scott McGillivray (Income Property) and Paul Lafrance (Decked Out). HGTV newcomer Jennifer Robertson (Little Mosque on the Prairie, Mr. D) is host.
Mike Holmes (Holmes Makes It Right) will appear as a guest judge in the final episode to weigh in on the final decision.
Wearing straight-legged red jeans and a funky hat, Jackson presented the judges with his entry into the challenge — a 3D representation of the Halifax skyline.
Like all contestants, Jackson’s work was created out of a single sheet of plywood.
“I thought everybody is going to be building tables and chairs and what not, so maybe I’ll stand out, which is the name of the game,” he said.
Jackson said the experience was more than he bargained for.
“It was so much fun,” he said.
Of the original 40, the judges narrowed it down to 10, who then competed in a skills challenge for the Top 5 who will battle to the end.
Jackson said his competitive nature took hold as the stress increased.
“Stress can be a wonderful thing. I found I became really inspired by it and super competitive,” he said.
Over the three days of shooting the Halifax auditions, the judges eliminated contestants one by one.
“Sometimes people say reality TV is not real, but this was very real. The emotions and everything was not made up; it was intense,” Jackson said. “It’s the real deal.”
From building freestanding patio swings in under two hours, reupholstering a chair in just 30 minutes and facing the judges for one-on-one trivia, the challenges this season will test speed, expertise and precision to determine which contestants thrive and which fail in their effort.
“The caliber of contestants this season is just amazing,” said Baeumler. “The $25,000 prize has certainly added a more competitive atmosphere to the series this season, highlighting the outstanding skill this country has to offer.”
Jackson, who’s been an artist for over 25 years, said he learned a lot about himself during the challenge.
“I realized I know a lot more than I think I know,” he said. “It was a great experience, and they were wonderful people to work with.”
The new season kicks off tonight, Jan. 22, with an episode dedicated to the Halifax auditions.
To view episodes after they air, behind the scenes photos and exclusive interviews with the judges and host of Canada’s Handyman Challenge, visit www.hgtv.ca.
Kyle Jackson will host an art show on Friday, Feb. 8 entitled Love and Flowers at 6026 Bliss St. in Halifax. The show gets underway at 5 p.m. For more information, go to Jackson’s blog at email@example.com