The bear necessities of life are all ours: Designers Colin and Justin on the wilderness of rural Canada

Colin and Justin
Colin and Justin

COLIN and Justin have revealed the bear truth about their new life in Canada.

The Scots interior designers shocked locals when they risked a bear attack by wanting a souvenir picture.

The duo – Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan – split their time in Canada between a plush city pad in Toronto and a cabin in the wilds.

“We buy and renovate houses in the middle of nowhere for one of our series, Cabin Pressure,” said Colin, 49.

“We’ve got moose, deer and bears in our back garden, which is in what’s called the Haliburton Highlands.

“Rush-hour is hundreds of wild turkeys filling the road.

“But we were driving up one day and a huge bear ran right in front of the car.

“We did what any good Canadian would never do – we got out of the car to take a picture.

“It was really close and turned to look at us.

“When we told friends they couldn’t believe what we’d done as bears are very unpredictable.”

The pair, who found fame initially on BBC 2’s Million Pound Property Experiment, have become global stars who are in demand for numerous series in Australia as well as Canada.

The Toronto apartment is on the 39th floor of a glass high rise overlooking the CN Tower and Lake Ontario.

“It’s become a real home from home for us but it’s so different from our Glasgow house,” said Justin, 50.

Colin and Justin (Jane Van Der Voort)
Colin and Justin (Jane Van Der Voort)

“It was built in 1833 and is ornate with great plasterwork and feels very grand and Glaswegian.

“Then we come back to Toronto to our glass box in the sky. We’ve probably become a mid-Atlantic mix – but not with the Sheena Easton accent.

“We’re always looking for Scots touches for the Canada apartment.

“We’re big Broons and Oor Wullie fans and when we were back in Scotland for Easter, we picked up a Broons book in Fort William to bring back with us.”

It’s 30 years now since Colin and Justin first met in a club while both on a night out in Glasgow.

“We were at different booths and a lady, who made Jordan look flat chested, pulled her vest off in the booth between us and stood there topless,” recalled Justin.

“We both turned to stare and then looked past her and saw each other. So breasts brought us together.

“We both have very similar goals but we’re very different people and we haven’t cancelled each other out and become some single blob. We’re the luckiest people in the world to do jobs we love.”

Colin and Justin join MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace as well as George Clarke, Olly Smith and John Amabile as celebrity guests at next month’s Ideal Home Show Scotland.

Before hitting the big time the duo worked behind the scenes at the show so view it as a bit of a homecoming.

But with their series now sold all over the world, they continue to travel non-stop, including lengthy stays in Australia.

“We really like the feeling that we are ambassadors for Scotland,” adds Colin.

“It’s easy when you live in Scotland and see it every day, so you tend to take it for granted.

“But when you go away and look back, you appreciate what incredible heritage we have and how Scots have shaped the world.

“And it’s so beautiful. When we get back to Glasgow, we don’t stay in and watch TV, we get into the countryside to trek and savour what’s there.”

Ideal Home Show Scotland is at the SECC Glasgow from May 26 to 29. idealhomeshowscotland.co.uk

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