Bird house builder Connor Withers thinking of getting into bee houses: Hospital Foundation might benefit again.

By Pepper Parr

March 1, 2014


He’s a normal, little bit on the shy side boy of 8 (9 in September), in grade three with a Mother who teaches and a Dad who manages a restaurant  – and three older sisters.

Soft brown eyes and a quiet smile: Connor Withers, bird house builder.

He’s got soft brown eyes and an artistic streak in him.  He doesn’t avoid eye contact but he doesn’t stare.  When he does look at you his gaze is very direct and there is a quiet sweet smile.

Connor Withers has a business card with his name and title: he is a Bird house builder with the Bird House Foundation, an organization that uses recycled wood to make birdhouses.

First corporate customer – Connor Withers delivers the Voortman Cookie Birdhouse to Harry Voortman.

The bird houses get sold and the funds donated to the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation – to date very close to $13,000 has been donated.  Connor and his Dad Tim have a target of $25,000  Getting to that target meant going corporate and that has resulted in some very attractive bird house with corporate logo and designs which go for upwards of $200

Connor is the recipient of a 2013 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Award and is the poster boy for the  Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation.

Connor does a turn at setting up the power saw – power lines are disconnected during his training.

The project started last summer when Connor and his dad collected discarded wood put out for garbage collection along Burlington streets this summer. The pair spent hours together in their workshop turning the refuse into birdhouses.  Connor sold the birdhouses on his front lawn at a sale last July, raising  $200.

The Withers family, Mom Christa, sisters Sydney, Abigail and Meagan, decided the money should be donated to the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation.  All four children were born at Joseph Brant.

Last week Connor was given Certificate of recognition by Mayor Goldring at a council meeting. The  Mayor told Connor that he didn’t have to stay for the rest of the meeting – the family left the council chamber but on the way home Connor said he would have liked to have stayed for a while.

The Birdhouse Foundation has its own Facebook page with 347 followers  and a slew of pictures – it’s a sort of family scrapbook.

When it was becoming evident that the “business” had taken off help was needed and wood as well.  There are limits on how much scrap wood one can find at the roadside in Burlington. 

Turkstra Lumber offered a load of wood which they delivered to Robert Bateman high school where the students taking shop cut the wood to size to be taken back to the Withers garage where the bird houses were assembled.

Part of the production line – bird houses partially painted.

Swiss Line Industries said they could paint a couple of hundred of the houses – just ship them over and we will paint them for you.  Paint from the RONA recycle bin was used.

Various organizations donated tools and a large number of corporations asked how they could help.  Many bought a bird house, had a corporate design put on it and then off Connor and his Dad would go to deliver the finished product and have pictures taken.

Connor Withers with his dad Tim who teaches his son how to properly use a drill press.

The sports world took part as well – Connor and his dad trucked into Toronto and met just about every one of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey players.

Connor doesn’t seem at all overwhelmed by the attention but what he has seen says his father is the power of what one person can do.  The grade three, French immersion student at Orchard Park elementary school is a thoughtful boy; reflective, whose favourite subjects are art and music.

Christa, who said she manages the household, comments that the project took off so fast.  It started with what was basically a yard sale and just took off – getting the point where more people were needed – and sure enough the neighbours showed up and picked up pieces of sandpaper and helped with the assembly.

The project has become a family event which has Tim spending much more time with his son – “the two of us work together on things and when there is something to be thought through Connor and I do that together.  It wasn’t quite what I expected but the time we spend together is great”, said Tim.

Both parents are also seeing a young boy who is now much more confident.  During the presentation at city hall Connor paused for a moment when the Mayor gave him the certificate of recognition and slowly put his hand out to shake the hand of the Mayor.

Local bird house builder thinking of extending his product line to bee houses

What next?  Well Connor has taken an interest in honey bees and can tell you much more than you really wanted to know about the “orchard mason bee” and thinks this is a product line he would like to pursue.

Would you like your own bird house?  Slip over to Connors Facebookpage –

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