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47℉ at 6:30 am, cloudy, high 57℉
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
We spent the better part of the morning doing laundry and cleaning up inside the trailer. A visit to the Wendell Gilley Museum was the next order of the day. I spent a lot of time there in 2012 while Martha took a bike tour in the park. I love this place! Mr. Gilley was a plumber for most of his life. He had a very successful business on the island, having four employees. In his mid-50’s he began carving birds as a hobby. The museum has a great film interview of him 35 years ago. The young girl who interviewed him for the film still works at the museum, and came up to talk to us after watching it. You can see his soft manner and speech, telling how he got started and how it progressed. He gave his first tiny decoy to a secretary of a local business. Years later, after he had become famous, she gave it back to him, saying he should have his original carving. He made her a new one in exchange. He said he could work with drills and sanders, but holding the wood in his hands, he could feel the bird as it developed, and feel what he needed to change. Working for a special client, he tried hard to make a great carving and kept failing. He said his best work came when he just carved, letting the work flow. He had a great little shop to work in, saying he enjoyed the quiet hours alone. He finally sold his plumbing business and spent all his time carving.
One room of the museum has his original workbench and tools. A very nice gentleman, Steven Valleau, carves at another table. He has been carving for 30 years or more and teaches classes. In the winter there is a 6-month course, but there are also 1-day or multiple-day courses (http://www.wendellgilleymuseum.org/education/workshops.html). The museum is an active place where artists come to see or practice or show their work. A cabinet holds work of some of the students. A man talked with Steven about his own carvings, what he was doing and what he needed help with.
We spent an hour or so marveling at Mr. Gilley’s many carvings. I have often thought of carving, so I bought his book and Martha bought some placemats. I love this active museum. Mr. Valleau said it was well worth a trip to visit Mr. Gilley’s cousin, who also carves. We saw a sign for his house on our drive yesterday. If we pass it again, we will go in.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
We met Fred at Stoneham Campground. He loves Airstreams, and his son, Antoinne, suggested he talk with us. We had noticed his immaculate campsite two sites down from us. We were walking parallel to each other and exchanged a smile and a nod of the head. We met at the other side of the shower where he had come to wash dishes. We talked about Airstreams for a few minutes, and I could see the enthusiasm in his eyes. I could quickly see he was well-read on Airstreams. Then we talked about where we were going and where we had been. He had some great suggestions on where to go and where to stay. Martha quickly wrote them down. I don’t know what it is in a handshake, a short conversation and a smile, but we felt like old friends in a short time. He sat down at a picnic table and showed us on my computer how to get places and what routes to take. He talked about the destination art gallery that he and his wife have in La Malbaie, inviting us to come and visit. We learned he was a computer engineer who had worked for Expedia, but was now doing the website for the Gallery, and it’s a good one!
Our intention was to go to Grands-Jardins, then come back down to 138 and LaMalbie, but we went north to Lac St-Jean and stayed a while. We stayed in communication with Fred all along our route, but felt we had messed up their plans, but Fred, always courteously, replied telling us more about where to go – truly a patient man. Finally, we were in La Malbaie and were excited to visit him and see the art gallery.
As we drove into town on a rainy morning, we made the turn, but didn’t see the house or gallery, but Martha saw a man standing on the sidewalk with an umbrella. It was Fred directing us where to park. We exchanged greetings, then he took us through the house, meeting Jeanette, and then going to the gallery to meet Marie-Eve. This is a lady passionate about art. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Many people came through the gallery while she told us about the artists and about how their gallery works. It is not by consignment. They purchase the works from artists in Quebec and now across Canada. Marie-Eve’s grandfather started with a framing shop. Then her father started the gallery, renovating an old house that had been on the market for years. Marie-Eve worked in the gallery summers and vacations as she was going to school. With degrees in Art and Business, she began to take the lead role in the gallery, but her parents still enjoy working there.
It is a great gallery with beautiful grounds, and a huge parking lot that can easily handle big RV’s and trailers. Their website at http://www.auptitbonheur.com, shows more than what is shown in the gallery. Amazingly, Marie-Eve makes herself available for phone calls and final sales. They have a Canada project where they are working with an artist named St-Gilles, to paint the most spectacular places in Canada. I want to go to all of those places! The staff is outstanding. It is a wonderful gallery run by wonderful, highly organized people! We stayed with them for two great days. I can only hope our paths will cross again.