Friday, October 17, 2014

Sepia Saturday 250: Hector's Carvings




Hector Fortier - French Canadian Farm Art
I love the prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday - the colorized photo; the expression on the man's face; the tools; the clothing and in particular, the soles walking up the wall. The closest image I have is of my grandpa Hector seated with his carvings both in front and in back of him. 

My grandparents, Hector and Pulcherie moved from the farm to an average sized house and thence to a teeny tiny house on Alverstone Street in Winnipeg, the tiniest house they could find. I think they were just sick of taking care of things and this little house freed them from a lot of care. Like most couples, they'd never spent a lot of time in really close contact, both being busy people. When they found themselves in this little space, they got on each other's nerves. Grandpa had a little cellar below the house which became his carving room and his escape.  
The Fortier's tiny house
Hector was either a prodigious carver or my grandmother was really, really annoying because grandpa turned out hundreds of these funny little treasures, now considered Canadian folk art. He carved elephants, rhinos, horses and bears. He made quite a few mounties (RCMP), cowboys and many men with odd hats. One of my favorites was the bald, gold man - he had rhinestone eyes at one time; his lips were ruby red and he had a jumble of teeth. Grandpa probably thought it was a scary figure, but we kids never saw the gold man as menacing.

I regret that as a child growing up I didn't appreciate my grandfather's sense of humor. He didn't say much; he didn't hear well and my French was lousy, so communication wasn't great. Despite this fact, I felt his warmth; we smiled at each other a lot and I know he loved me and all his grandchildren. He was a kind and gentle man. 

Funny isn't it how life goes? Grandpa's motivation for carving wasn't to create art...he was escaping the company of my grandmother when he lodged himself in the basement working on these little figures. After all the things he accomplished in his life, it's ironic that these escape carvings remain as his legacy.  

For more thoughts on the prompt, visit Sepia Saturday and have a look around. 



17 comments:

  1. Oh dear, I can see how moving into a tiny house could spell doom for a marriage. Everyone needs their own space and thank goodness Hector had his. I bet your grandmother was ony too pleased to get him out from under her feet as well! The photograph of Hector and his carvings is just wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well it was a lovely hobby that he had. I think all if us have our escape hobby for escaping from all sorts of things, and for some of us we escape into our blog writing for part of each week. What a loverly name, Pulcherie. I haven't heard that before.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your grandpa appears to have been quite the artist - whether he meant to be, or not. His carvings are quite lovely. A happy marriage depends, in part, on the participants understanding the concept of space - both mental & physical. I have my hobby area; my husband has his 'man cave'. I have my music & art & blogging; he has his hunting and trap shooting & reloading his own shells & bullets. Luckily - now that it's the season - we both love (American) football. Of course momentarily the World Series with the San Francisco Giants is overlapping football, but we're dealing well with it. :)) (Go Giants!!!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ditto the Giants. We have an avocado grove where my husband can escape. Like you, I use the computer for that purpose.

      Delete
  4. I love the folk art figures. I never knew either of my grandfathers.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is an incredibly small house, and I can imagine digging myself a tunnel out of there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our bedroom is bigger than that house. And my grandpa's cellar was sort of like a beginning tunnel. He did make a run for it once but never got further than the mall, like a child. He was just slipping into dementia and "ran away" with no money.

      Delete
    2. When my parents were planning their move into a cottage in a retirement village, my Dad used to joke that he was already formulating the plans for his escape tunnel. Actually, when it came to it, he quite enjoyed the community and was, I think, quite surprised by the number of like-minded folk he found there. He certainly never ran out of things to do, or people to talk to.

      Delete
  6. Your post made me smile and giggle. That is just about the tiniest house I have ever seen. It is like a doll's house. Such an interesting story. My relationship with my maternal grandfather was much like yours. He was profoundly deaf so talking to him was frustrating but he was very kind and generous to me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have what's known as "my little room" in our bungalow but there are no carvings in there. What a skill to have had.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Much like when you both retire!!
    I like your grandmother`s name, unusual.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A wonderful story and very suitable for this weekend's theme. I also enjoy wood carving and I can relate to the personal satisfaction of working with one's hands at a craft.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Have I see this photo before? I remember thinking, "I wish I had all those wonderful wood carvings". They really are some great examples of folk art.
    That tiny house is so funny. I can imagine why they didn't get along there and he needed his escape.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  11. He had his own version of the Man Cave - ahead of his time. Do you think that wood carving is a thing of the past? As you say, ironic that that's what's survived him. Perhaps you need to tell his other stories?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I hope you have some of Hector's work. It's lovely.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Is this the grandfather that built a boat?
    It doesn't matter WHY he carved, only that he did. Go Hector!

    ReplyDelete
  14. We had a horse and a couple of his birds when I was a child. It's amazing to see a photo of my great-grandfather with his work!

    ReplyDelete