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Issue #18

Chiropractor Turns Chainsaw Carver

BY Sharon Blythe

   He's a doctor of Chiropractic medicine, a motivational speaker, a husband and father, a carver of wood and soapstone, and just a plain nice guy.                                                                       
    Rob Forde was born in Matsqui  at the MSA hospital in May of 1963. He says his father is a very colourful character  who had been forced to resign his position in the RCMP because he married the woman with whom he had fallen in love. {In those days RCMP members were not allowed to marry without their superior officers permission}He then became a member of the Matsqui police force who brought four children, 2 boys and 2 girls, into the world, and who  loved to play musical instruments and travel. Rob says his parents encouraged the whole family to live life to the fullest and 'to take a chance'.  At this time his mother is writing a book.  He  coached a senior boys basketball team for 5 years. With his help they won the provincials several times. He calls himself a success coach, and recently coached a young man who was training for the Highland Games in the caber toss. With Rob's motivational help he won the caber, and became 7th overall in the Worlds. He recently moved from  Abbotsford to Nova Scotia, but I'm sure Rob will  be approached by other athletes who need his help staying focused and motivated.
    Rob attended grades 1 to 12 in Mission and Agassiz. During all that time he never took a single art lesson, mainly because band always fell in the same block, and he took great delight in playing the trombone. After graduating he attended classes at the University College of the Fraser Valley for 3 years. During the summer holidays he used a power saw for the first time  doing what he calls "extreme logging" for the forestry.  He did juvenile spacing, which means you cut down as many 6" to 8" trees as you can in a day, leaving the choice trees behind. For about one month, just before he left for Toronto to attend chiropractic school for 4 years in 1983, he worked for my daughter Leona and her then boyfriend Stuart, who sub contracted for the forestry {It's a small world isn't it?}
    He  married Debbie in 1983, and came straight back to Agassiz after finishing school in Toronto, where he set up a practice in his home. He also set up an office on 6th Ave. and  came to Hope three times a week for the first year. After a while he moved his entire practice to Pioneer Street in Agassiz, where he remained for 13 years. He and Deb also brought 3 little girls into the world. Their names are Jenna, Christie and Alex. {I remember him telling me at the time that he sure would like to deliver babies for a living because it was 'so totally awesome'}     While living on Golf  Road in Agassiz, he took his thinning saw with its 18" bar into the bush one day and carved a bear. I believe he left it there as it wasn't all that wonderful, but he realized he liked to carve. About seven years ago he felt he needed a new outlet. {Did you know that chiropractors have to go to chiropractors because they have put their backs out while helping their patients to feel better?} He and Deb were raising Standard bred horses at the time. One day in 1995 he saw a beautiful little foal lying near a log and couldn't resist carving it.. When they moved from that house the carving stayed along with 10 or twelve others, but by then he'd sold his first piece, a life sized hound dog, out of a store called "A Question of Balance" located on the highway heading to Harrison.  Rob likes to carve in a realistic style, often life size and almost a portrait of his subject. Of the ones I've seen, I'd say his "Elvis" probably shows that the best to this date, although "Chips" runs a close second.
    On July 4th, 5 or 6 years ago Rob made a trip to Sedro Wooly in Washington because he'd heard that they were having a carving competition.. He was amazed at how friendly and helpful the carvers were. They invited him to attend a competition in West Port, Washington, which is one of the largest competitions in the world, with up to 70 pieces carved every day. That first year he entered the novice division and carved the Narwhal whale that sits at the top of the stairs in his yard at American Creek. No prizes that year, but  he entered again the next year, this time in the Intermediate category, and came 4th with his carving of a mermaid. Last year he carved the eagle that now stands on the corner of Fifth Ave. and Wallace Street, and came away with a First Place standing. He missed this years competition as he was back east on a holiday with his family, but hopes to compete next year in the professional category.
    Last year Rob received a call from Michael Young of Primary Productions out of Vancouver. They were travelling through B.C. filming sequences for the British TV. series "The Mole", and wanted to do something on logging which would be filmed at the Lightning Lakes in Manning Park. Would he carve them something? It was decided that he would carve a foot long mole with his chainsaw, and the contestants, which included a fireman, a fitness instructor and an entrepreneur, had a choice of using a 2 man crosscut saw, a regular handsaw or an axe to cut about a one foot piece off the end of a yellow cedar log. If they won using the handsaw they got $20,000.00, with the axe they shared $10,000.00, and if they used the 2 man saw they got $5000.00. If Rob beat them they lost $5000.00. Would you believe the entrepreneur convinced them to use the handsaw, {it turned out he was 'The Mole'}. Rob carved as slow as he could, but after 15 minutes he was finished and they'd only cut into the log by about an inch!!
    Next year Rob would like to help organize a "Chainsaw Jubilee"  in Hope, maybe for Brigade Days. He says all he needs is half a dozen people interested in a carving festival. He would then invite carvers to carve smaller pieces, which would then be auctioned off, maybe during the lull between the Demo Derby heats. As he wants to be involved in the actual carving he doesn't want to be head organizer, but has the contacts and know how to help make it happen.  Wow, what a great way for us financially challenged folk to purchase a carving for our yard or home!
    As well as the two locally located carvings  already mentioned, Rob has an owl near the office at the Coquihalla campsite, the beaver family in front of the Dist. Hall, and an old fashioned gas pump and 'gas jockey' at Young's Shell on the Old Hope Princeton Highway.  His most recent piece is at the Best Continental Motel.  He continues to be contacted every day by people who want him to carve them something, and has even had a commission by a local loggers wife to carve a 'to scale' chainsaw for her husband.
Arts Column
Submitted by Sharon Blythe

    North Bend Recollections (1926-1938)

No. 6                                 A Busy Town                    W.(Bill) Young

    In the 1930's, North Bend was a busy and active Divisional Point for the CPR and the peak of the steam era.  Freight trains were regularly coming and going and steam locomotives seemed to be constantly "switching" in the Yards with the breaking down and making up of trains.  In addition, four crack continental passenger trains made a ten minute stop in North Bend  (Numbers One and Three heading west plus numbers Two and Four heading east).  In addition, with heavy snowfalls often closing the Coquihalla pass in the winter, the Kettle Valley Line often re-routed an additional two daily  passenger trains through the Fraser Canyon and North Bend.
    During this period, the railway crews and their families made their homes in North Bend.  The families bought groceries at the North Bend Store, picked up their mail at the North Bend Post Office and their kids went to school at the North Bend School.
    Of course, there were no telephones in the majority of the North Bend homes- only a few of the CPR "brass" had such modern amenities.  Men were "called out" to work by "Call Boys"  I recall these men coming around to our home at any hour of the day or night with the word that my dad was being "called out" for a run to Ruby Creek, spences Bridge or Walachin.  Although Ruby creek and Spences Bridge were the most common "calls", I recall how my mother didn't like the Walachin call as dad would be away from home for a longer period.
    On a recent visit to the Railway Museum at Revelstoke, I purchased a book by Ernie Ottewell.  In his publication, he described the North Bend Freight runs as follows:
"Depending  on the amount of traffic, there were eight to ten engine and train crews working turns west to Ruby Creek and east to Spences Bridge or Walachin.  A 5300 Class P2 2-8-2 could handle about 4,500 tons from Coquitlam to Ruby Creek, where the train would be split and the road crew would take one half of the train through to North Bend.  A turn crew would take the other half.  At North Bend, a Kamloops crew and another turn crew would take the two trains east to Walachin where the turn crew would set their train off for the Kamloops crew to take the rest of the way.  the turn crew would then run a caboose hop to Spences Bridge to pick up westbound tonnage set off by a Kamloops crew.  At North Bend, two crews would take the trains to Ruby Creek where the turn crew would set off and the through crew lift that tonnage to Coquitlam."

Today, North Bend has changed from a busy railway town, the Roundhouse the Turntable , the Hotel, the Post Office and the General Store have gone.  while the railway traffic has increased significantly over the decades, North Bend is but a crew change point before the crew head back to their families in Kamloops or the Greater Vancouver area.  ............coming in Issue #20, "North Bend Hotels"

RCMP Report
On the 3rd of September, after Hope's Dr. Singleton didn't show up for work, his office staff became concerned and contacted the RCMP.  They also arranged for Valley Helicopters to conduct a search of the Kwioek Lakes Region.  Singleton, who had suffered a leg injury, and his partner were eventually located at the end of a lake, and  were long-line rescued.
Update , as reported in last issue two break and enters occurred on August 12 with many electronics being taken.  Police are pleased to report that the stolen property has been recovered, the victim of the break-ins has apparently decided not to press charges.
Reminder-RCMP  would  like to remind the general public that dogs should not be running at large around the community.  Police are concerned that unsupervised dogs could cause injuries to children who may be walking to school or home.