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Les Gens de Bois – Then and Now                 

by Cathie Brereton

Les Gens de Bois was started in Saint Boniface by Dr. Henri Guyot on January 9, 1979. During the first meeting, held in the workshop of College Louis Riel, Dr. Guyot addressed 15 people who were in attendance. He explained the purpose and timing of the meeting and rules that needed to be followed. They would meet every Monday evening from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. until May 1 in the workshop of the school. There was no charge for the use of the workshop but members had to clean their own tables; bring their own tools, wood, sandpaper and band aids and there was to be no smoking.

The main focus of the club was to provide a centralized location for people to learn, practice and experience the craft of woodcarving. Today’s goal remains basically the same, promotes the joy of woodcarving to people of all ages, skills and disciplines.

In 1980 an annual fee of $10.00 was introduced, however in 1982 the fees increased to $15.00 per year so funds would be available to start a library and purchase books for use by the members. Our fee structure today is $25.00 for members 65 or over and $35.00 for anyone under 65. We boast a library collection of over 200 books, as well as an assortment of videos, patterns, magazines and reference material.

Originally there were 17 members who joined the club.  One original member is still with us today, Hugh McVarish. The original membership from 1979 included:    
 

Thérèse Bérubé   Henri Brunet
Huguette Champagne   Lucienne Goebel
 Gilles Guyot   Dr. Henri Guyot
 Paul Guyot   Aurore Lafrenière
 René Lafrenière   Gerard Lécuyer
 Pierrette Marion   Hélène McCarthy
 Hugh McVarish   Roméo Patry
 Charles Pelletier   Nicole Pribilski
 Lorraine Turenne    

 

Club members continued to meet at College Louis Riel until the Spring of 2000. Our current membership of 92 members for 2003/2004 meets in the woodworking shop of Bernie Wolf School.  Members come together every Tuesday evening between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. throughout the school year.

We encourage members to teach woodcarving classes, mentor fellow members or help the members just starting out, sharing their tips, skills and experience.

Les Gens de Bois is often invited to have members demonstrate their skills and their love of woodcarving and promote our craft during exhibits and special events.

People are always welcome to drop in for a visit and talk with members and join us for a cup of coffee.