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Michael Thomson is a finalist on HGTV Canada's Handyman Challenge.

Newman grad challenges to be Canada’s best handyman

Michael Thomson advances to final six of HGTV reality show

By Laura Lennie, News Staff

Michael Thomson is vying for the crown of Canada’s best handyman.

The 47-year-old, who grew up in Stoney Creek and graduated from Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School, was among the top six finalists going into the second last episode of Canada’s Handyman Challenge on Tuesday.

The top six had to build living room furniture using completely unconventional materials. The finalists then had to prove their electrical and design skills on a wall they also had to wallpaper.

A $2,500 prize for the best built living room furniture and a place in the final four were on the line. Tuesday’s show aired just after the Stoney Creek News’ deadline.

“I feel confident,” Thomson said last week heading into the episode. “I have placed first in five of nine competitions so far.”

Canada’s Handyman Challenge airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on HGTV and is in its third season.

In 10 one-hour episodes, contestants are put through rigorous challenges to test their handyman skills for a chance to earn a spot in the final four and win the title of Canada’s best handyman, along with the $25,000 prize.

The show features an all-star judging panel of Bryan Baeumler, Paul Lafrance and Scott McGillivray from HGTV and is hosted by Jennifer Robertson. It also includes guest judge Mike Holmes.

The judges travelled to Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax in the spring to hold auditions and recruit talented hopefuls for Canada’s Handyman Challenge.

In each city, a top four was chosen to represent their regions, forming the top 16 for the show. Those 16 progressed to Toronto to compete and strut their handyman talents during the finals.

Thomson, who now lives in Burlington and works as a real estate investor, said he’s always loved construction and renovation.

“Over the last 20 years, my wife and I have acquired a number of multi-residential and commercial properties that we have renovated. The historic restorations are my favourite,” he said. “I am a big fan of Canada’s Handyman Challenge and HGTV. I was watching the show last year and thought, ‘That would be a fun experience.’”

Thomson attended the Toronto audition.

He said talented hopefuls had to bring a project built out of one sheet of plywood.

There were a number of great projects, including tables, chairs and furniture, Thomson said.

“I wanted to create something with curves and design to take advantage of the plywood layers, so I made a wooden waterproof urn. The show chose the top 30 projects from the 300 plus contestants,” he said. “The judges then selected the top 10. The top 10 returned the next day to compete and the top four winners were chosen to represent Toronto on the show in the fall.”

Thomson had scored sweet 16, top 12, 10 and eight honours going into the top six finalists competition of Canada’s Handyman Challenge.

He said contestants face “extreme pressure” during the build-offs on the show.

“You have to commit to a plan right away then race to build something in very little time and in extreme heat with cameras and judges eyeing your every move,” Thomson said. “It is a very intense environment with absolutely no room for mistakes. You can be the best one day, then easily be eliminated the next.”

Thomson said the best part of the experience, though, is pushing yourself to the limit and being able to perform consistently at high levels over a long period of competition.

“It is the greatest test of character,” he said.

Thomson said while his goal was to earn a place in the final four of Canada’s Handyman Challenge, win or lose he’s enjoyed his time on the show.

“It has been an amazing experience,” he said. “I got to spend time with the judges, plus I met wonderful competitors from all over the country. I very much enjoyed the production process and would ultimately like to host a show of my own one day.”

The second last episode of Canada’s Handyman Challenge from Tuesday will re-air on Sunday, March 23 at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., as well as Monday, March 24 at midnight on HGTV.

The final episode of the show will air on Tuesday, March 25 at 10 p.m. on the network.

Viewers can show their support for Thomson by voting for him once daily as a fan favourite at www.hgtv.ca/canadashandymanchallenge/vote.

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