It’s been a long and dreary winter for Hope, with snow and cold weather pummelling the town relentlessly.
While people can escape indoors, the 86 wood carvings in the downtown area have no such refuge. They have born the brunt of winter’s fury and are going to need a little TLC as we move into spring and summer.
Victor Smith with Communities in Bloom said the group has a budget of $5,000 each year from the District of Hope to maintain the sculptures.
“We did 14 last year, re-finishing them, and sometimes we do a second stain and then a sealer on top to give them a little more colour,” Smith explained. “It also makes them a little more hardy to last a little longer and we plan to do more this year.”
A team of four volunteers does the work, sanding and patching and re-finishing. The sculptures dry and crack and preventative maintenance is required every third year.
“Sometimes there’s a little vandalism,” Smith added. “Sometimes it’s an accident, where someone’s trying to be funny, a piece breaks off and they leave it there. But sometimes there’s a part gone and we have to get a replacement made.
“We’re lucky that doesn’t happen often. People really like the carvings and they’re part of the character of our town.”
All of the sculptures are now mounted on bases to keep water from wicking up at the bottom.
“When we used to have the fir, that water would wick up and within eight to 10 years they’d rot and be done,” Smith said. “You could go up to one, knock on it and hear the hollow sound because they were rotten in the middle.”
Renowned Hope wood carver Pete Ryan, who passed away in January of 2021, used to use fir because he got it for free. Only two fir sculptures are still out there, but the rest are cedar.
“We know from First Nations totem polls, some are over 100 years old so cedar is definitely the wood to use,” Smith said.
Three new carvings will be appearing in 2022.
The first-place and people’s choice winner from last August’s Hope Chainsaw Carving Competition is going up to celebrate Rotary’s 75th anniversary.
The First Nations chief’s head is currently waiting for its finish before placed at Centennial Park.
A ‘hand in face’ carving will be going up at the Hope Arts Gallery and people have already seen the Grinch scowling at them from his perch beside Memorial Park. The Grinch is made of spruce and can’t handle being up year round. He’s going into storage soon will come back Dec. 3, 2022.
As new ones go up, old ones will be removed to keep the total number of sculptures manageable.
Some are sold to “pay the bills”
Smith said that’s essential, or the maintenance bill quickly gets out of control.
Hope’s maintenance budget is one-fifth of Chetwynd’s (approximately) $25,000.
“You can only look after so many and if you don’t stay on top of it they start to not look so good after a while,” he said. “Then people are looking at them saying, ‘Really? That’s looking a little tired.’”
Smith and company will be waiting a while yet to get started on this year’s projects, requiring two weeks of hot weather to dry the sculptures out.
“July or August, maybe June, but we’ll be able to start a little earlier on the one for Rotary because we’ve got most of it done,” Smith said. “What really helps is people donating cedar to us. Community Forest donating wood. Community Forest. Tolson Logging contractors. Probyn Log buyers. We couldn’t do this without that help.”
For more on the Hope chainsaw carvings, including a link to a walking map, visit hopebc.ca/listings/hope-chainsaw-carvings/