Outdoor Furniture

Don’t you love summer news (when there is little real news to report)? One of the stories that’s received a lot of press locally is about a concrete chair that may (or maybe not) incorporate a piece of Halifax Explosion debris. When a picture of the chair surfaced I was surprised at how good it looked. That sent me searching for a few photos I’ve taken over the last 40 years of outdoor furniture, good looking and maybe not so much.


These chairs were at an auction in River John in the 1970s. It felt like the pieces were not going to survive very long, now that the old people that had been caring them were gone. It got me thinking about the ephemeral quality of furnishing left outdoors in all kinds of weather.

This fine selection of chairs in Lunenburg County are in the preferred geezer configuration, a straight line facing the road, so you can keep track of comings and goings. Extra points for the ride-on toy horse to the right, and the red-tipped fence pickets.

In the 1960s, homemade wooden chairs were often replaced by these lightweight aluminum folding chairs with bright, plastic webbing. I took this picture in 1974 because even then they felt deliciously retro, glowing in the setting sun.

Moulded plastic chairs were the new popular outdoor chair of the 70s and 80s. White and green were the standard colours with red and yellow reserved for the child size, which paired well with garden gnomes.

This straight-backed chair at Pictou Lodge is very similar to the original Adirondack chairs from early in the last century.

Robust green Adirondack-style chairs gather around the fire pit at Trout Point Lodge, Yarmouth County. They are joined by a couple of their seafaring cousins, deckchairs, similar to those rearranged on the Titanic.  

The oldest lawn furniture you’ll come across are rustic or twig style. Many were built and sold by the same Mi’kmaq artisans who made baskets and canoes. Twig chairs are so sculptural that they often  linger, even when no longer safe for sitting.

In my youth the ultimate piece of outdoor furniture was a swing set like this one at Pictou Lodge. Lots of fun for young and old.

These days many people want their outdoor spaces to look like indoor spaces. Feels like a lifestyle intended for another climate.


  • What’s Irish and stays outdoors in all kinds of weather?  Paddy O’Furniture.
  • For most of history, outdoor furniture was probably just indoor furniture brought outside. That tradition delightfully endures at this apple packing facility in the Annapolis Valley.

  • Parks Canada recognized that Adirondack chairs are a symbol for no stress, relaxation. Placing a pair of red chairs in iconic locations in their parks was smart branding. We sat in these at the Viking site of L’Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland.

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.