Lobster traps may look a little out of place under a giant fruit tree in a prairie neighbourhood.
But, seven years after being hauled across the prairies from Newfoundland, the two wire and wood cages finally have some company in their retirement home on Red Deer’s Waskasoo Crescent.
Larry the six-foot cedar fisherman was bolted into place on Len and Gyle Tenpas’s front lawn on Saturday afternoon, the highlight of a garden party featuring smoked meat, baked beans and plenty of chuckles.
“You know how hard it is to buy a gift for your wife,” says Len.
Getting Larry was worth every minute of the seven years it took from the time they visited Newfoundland until the day Len and his helpers were able to bolt him onto a stand beside the traps, said Gyle.
“I love Newfoundland. And so, we brought back these lobster pods and I said, we’ve got to get a fisherman for them,” she said.
Carving wood and bone and teaching the craft to others has become a full-time occupation for Len since his retirement.
His shop is filled with bones, antlers and pieces of wood that he has acquired over time, including a bovine pelvis that will become a mask and a moose antler that will become a flying eagle, bearing a grizzly bear and salmon on one wing, fighting rams and a medicine wheel on the other and joined at the centre with the side piece of an aboriginal headdress.
Len kept the fisherman project on the back burner until he found just the right medium for the statue — a giant cedar log found at a forestry project in Radium B.C.
The piece from which Larry is carved comes from about 12 meters up off what had been a 30 metre tree, said Len.
He developed a design for the log based in part on a mailbox stand he and Gyle had seen — and coveted — during their visit to Newfoundland.
The stand had been carved in the shape of a fisherman’s silhouette, standing watch with his Sou’Wester squared down over his eyes.
With help from work mate Rose Primus, Len roughed in the design. She worked on the fine details and then he laid down the colour and finish.
Even before he was bolted to his cement pad, Larry already had more company in store.
Back up in the workshop above his garage, Len is modelling a life-size pelican to go along with the display.
Gyle said it seems fitting to place a big sea bird in the life-sized diorama.
“A few years later, we were fishing and the pelicans were all around, and they were just special. So, I said, you better carve a pelican, too.”
There’s no word so far on whether any more creatures will be flocking around.