Gillespie, Charlie

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                                    CHARLIE GILLESPIE
                         Charlies Gillespie knows ins and outs of making showshoes
                                    By Margery MacRae


BLISSFIELD – The snow is deep and walking difficult. But that’s no problem for Charlie Gillespie, who takes about a week to make a pair of snowshoes. Gillespie, who lives in Blissfield, has made many pairs this winter and enjoyed every minutes of the time spent doing it.

“In the fall I get some of the wood I need in Dungarvon because it’s there that I can get the kind I need, which is ash,” Gillespie said. “Merle Brophy brings me a lot too,” he added while busily putting the finishing touches on yet another pair.

The elderly man has two patterns he uses, adult and child, and he loves to explain his unique hobby.

“First I start with the snowshoe bows (the frames), which must be steamed and allowed to dry for three days. Then I put in the cross bars for the toes and heels,” he said.

Gillespie uses 90 feet of plastic filling or lacing, (green in color) then brushes it with fibre glass which makes it waterproof. The snowshoes can be worn in wet snow and not sag like the old type used to, Gillespie explained. When fibre glass is applied to the filling the bow doesn’t even get wet, he added.

What does Gillespie do with all these snowshoes he makes? “Well, I give a lot of them as gifts especially at Christmas, and of course I sell some also. Word gets around,” he laughed.

Rangers and wardens who must do a lot of travelling through the woods in the winter often bring in their worn snowshoes and Gillespie replaces the filling for them.

Working in his little workshop adjoining the family home is convenient for Charlie, but he does track in plenty of dirt travelling back and forth, his wife Ruth said with a smile. She really doesn’t mind as long as her husband is doing something he enjoys, she said. “It keeps him out of mischief,” she added.

In addition to all the snowshoes he puts together, Gillespie also has a good supply of axe handles and peeve stocks on hand for those who need them.

Although now over 80, Gillespie said he always keeps busy.

In addition to his woodworking, Gillespie also has done about 110 paintings over the last several years. “This is something I picked up from our pastor, Rev. Randolph Nicholson, who was here many years ago. “I never really took a course in it or anything – I just started out with charcoal and later went into paints.

“I’ve sold a lot of them to Americans who come here during the summer, but I still have some here yet,” he added as he point out some his work decorating his country home. Included is a mural which covers an entire wall in the family living room.


Source: Miramichi Leader Weekend – March 11, 1994

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