The Craftsman, Part 1 (Gene Gregoret)



chiquan Lakes is a small crease settlement situated about 90 air miles west of the oil-rich Fort McMurray area and about 250 miles north of Edmonton isolation may have its disadvantages but on the other hand there's been less pressure on families to abandon the old ways as witnessed by the craftsmanship of Arnold or whether he's building a cabin a toboggan or repairing some item he relies on skills acquired from his father and grandfather at the moment he's constructing a moose call solely with materials provided by Nature the knowledge of how to select birchbark where to locate long straight spruce roots that will retain strength when split is essential to the success of such projects for example Arnold has learned that the most suitable routes are found under spruce trees whose lower branches tend to bend upwards at the ends in general these are tall spruce growing well away from the Muskegon high ground thus Arnold's knowledge and experience enables him to produce work that is recognized for its fine craftsmanship and for this reason he is often called upon to build things for relatives or other members of the community within an hour of removing the birch bark the moose call is ready for service and there's hardly anyone more capable than Arnold to carry out that very first test most of what Arnold makes is more complex and time-consuming a pair of snowshoes would be one example and according to his son ELLs here it's a project that often is in the works one thing my dad makes a lot is snowshoes the best time to make these loses towards the fall and he make his snowshoes for himself and for the people around here in this community after they when you finish the form he Yanks them up over us to rise them now about four four days he started he started off in making a drilling holes around so that it would blaze in the past it was necessary the tools were simple enough to be easily transported yet were effective the two most important were the axe and the knife and all for piercing bark or leather was also indispensable but one could be readily fashioned from born similarly Arnold works to a large extent with the life an axe and all as a matter of note he prefers his own handmade knife as opposed to the store-bought variety the blade is brought from a piece of steel used in Muskrat traps however it is perhaps reasonable to assume that Arnold would permit himself the luxury of the small hand drill especially if several pairs of snowshoes are to be made no doubt Arnold would be pleased to see his grandsons carry on traditional skills when his hands are no longer able to pull a knife across a piece of birch nor his legs carry him in search of spruce roots his sons appear to have made a decision one that indicates that they are seeking a lifestyle different than Arnold nose but his grandsons Leroy and Elvis are in a situation that will never be more favorable for learning these skills if they have the desire of course when Arnold was young it was not a question of desire it was practical if not essential for a young man to make equipment needed for a life of hunting fishing and trapping but growing cultural change has undermined the existence of our customs and it's doubtful that these boys will find a need for similar items when they mature the most involved step comes when the frame is ready for the webbing not only is the webbing a crucial and complicated phase of construction but the hide must be also properly prepared and cut into laces producing the longest possible length and here our wood requires some assistance and then to make this high you got to flip the hair and and soak them in a water after and start making laces around cutting up on the center you go around in a circle and you would make a long basis high out of this height for making these faces hi my mother is good for to have my dad making these to use them as muscles you use a thick places on on a fourth part and use a thin ones in a friend and in car amazing snowshoes is you have to start from them the friend part and on the back and the last thing to do is you got to lace them enough and a foot part in the center as the last part of places besides knows who's a mix he likes to make a lot of things he likes always making carving out something and he's a really good craftsman here from the best the best segment and pretty soon he's gonna make a big can do with the spindle but it's going to take him around three months or so it's going to be a bright spark and for about a week and a half now Arnold has been spending varying amounts of time on the snowshoes if one excludes the time required for drying the wood and preparing the hide he could have had the snowshoes ready in less than four days the amount of hours spent on a project is also governed by demands of chores around the house and notably the fact that part of most mornings are given over to checking the nets and bringing home the supply of fish the snowshoes are considered ready for use without the addition of any sort of preservative unlike the commercial product these are not treated with shellac all things being equal expensive factory made snowshoes may last longer but under hard use where breakage is frequently a possibility such things as preservative are not of great concern to the hunter and trapper of the settlement usually Arnold concentrates on one task at a time but in this case another particularly important project has been started as mentioned Arnold has consented to make a large birch bark canoe by special request it will be constructed in exactly the same way he remembers the canoes made by his grandfather so once again a birch bark canoe is being made in cheap wine lakes by a craftsman who cares to remember

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