Vintage collector's passion featured in new Xavier Dolan film

Paul Chaks has been collecting vintage applicances for years, but when the team behind the new film The Elephant Song came calling to rent his goods, he realized he may have more than just a hobby on his hands.

Retro kitchen appliances spark memories of collector's West Island youth

Paul Chaks shows off his collection that was recently used on the set of a film. 1:02

Paul Chaks vividly remembers tagging along with his father, a city building inspector, as a child and being in awe of a new Beaconsfield subdivision that came fully stocked with gleaming, turquoise appliances. 

"I flipped out," Chaks recalled.  "I just thought, 'Wow, that must be the coolest place in the world to live."

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Fast forward a few decades, and Chaks' passion for that vintage aesthetic led him to install his own all-in-one turquoise vintage kitchen in his Eastern Townships home. He had the appliances shipped thousands of kilometres from a storage space in Texas. 

"I really enjoy the design and style of the 1950s and '60s appliances," he said. "They're simple. They're good-looking. They've got lots of functionality and bells and whistles— things that you never see in appliances today."

Since then, his collection has swelled, thanks in part to an online group of like-minded collectors, known as

They've got lots of functionality and bells and whistles— things that you never see in appliances today.- Collector Paul Chaks

The collective helps members locate specific pieces, shares old user manuals and gives self-professed vintage "nuts" like Chaks a place to show off their restoration work on their own retro masterpieces. 

It was there that he tracked down the all in one turquoise kitchen, which ended up costing him just as much to ship up as it did for the appliances themselves. 

"This got the ball rolling. I thought, 'Why don't I get more?" he said. "My partner, Chris, was just looking up at the ceiling thinking, 'I can't believe this is happening.'"

The collection kept on rolling and Chaks kept on finding ways to repair mouse-eaten wires and the other damaging effects of time. 

His reputation as a collector is what attracted the production staff of Xavier Dolan's new film, The Elephant Song. A shop owner in Sherbrooke who specializes in restoring 1930s and '40s appliances referred the crew to Chaks knowing that his pieces would be a perfect fit for their '50s era set. 

"I sent a few photos back and forth with the set decorator and she just flipped out. She said, 'This is exactly what we're looking for,'" Chaks said. 

While it started as a hobby, it could turn into more of a profession for Chaks. He lost his job to restructuring in February.

He's now looking at how he could turn his passion for his collection into a business. 


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