Offroadchairs Inc.

The History

The ORC – Off Road Chair was named by my friend David Howells it was he along with my friend Andrew Rockandel who first took me out in the “Trailrider”, the inspiration for the ORC. The Trailrider is a one wheeled device designed for transporting individuals with disabilities for access to hiking and camping (see below).

When I first saw the Trailrider it seemed odd and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ride in it, when I got it home it sat a few weeks before I could recruit a couple of sherpas and make time for a ride. When we first went out I was very uncomfortable and it was obvious that they were to; back at my place we grabbed a pad and pencil and wrote down the pros and cons of the chair. We sat over a beer and thought of ways we might improve on the Trailrider so that one friend could help if two were not available or the rider could maneuver it independently in mild terrain. A few months later Eric Bjarnason approached me, he’s a north van firefighter and avid climber told me he planned on guideing up to disabled people to base camp of Everest. The year before he had ascended Kilimanjaro with a quadriplegic friend of mine Jim Milina so it wasn’t a ridiculous idea, Eric asked me if I would design a chair suitable for the expedition and told me he had $5,000.00 from the hose reel committee towards the cause, the timing was perfect. Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion kicked in $3,000 more and we had a budget. With the support of the Tetra Society a design team was formed including Janet Bednarczyk (physio therapist), Wade Lander (designer), Harry Hardy (engineer), Jay Drew (engineer), Roy Hamaguchi (engineer), David Howells (adventurer), Katrina Tilley (occupational therapist), Mike Blenkarn (designer) and myself.

First thing was to build a proto-type to test our thoughts and theories on, wade suggested we use the old Trailrider and make the necessary modifications to it before we started building something we my decide wouldn’t work out and it would help keep costs down. Together with Wade and Dave, we modified the Trailrider with different wheel sizes and configurations, they would strap me in and try to push and pull me over the roughest terrain we could find, before we came up with a design. Chris Kuny formerly of Brodie bikes welded up our frame and Dave Swan and Trevor Gammon machined the necessary parts, with the upholstery designed by and built by Mike Blenkarn and Brad Boates.