In the tight-knit community of Norway Bay, there is a small green and yellow cottage. This quaint wooden home has a peaceful view, sitting adjacent to the Ottawa River and among many other cozy and colouful cottages.
This cottage belongs to Barry Young, who has been a resident in Norway Bay for his whole life. The little yellow cottage was built by Young’s grandparents in the 1920s and has been in his family since. In fact, Norway Bay is still very much home to the descendants of the cottage builders — Young and his siblings Bill and Joann all call the area home.
Though they are not building homes like their grandparents, Young and his family are still crafters. Young himself has been woodworking for years and has worked on many different projects throughout his life. But now, he has been applying his skills to a new form of art: woodturning.
Woodturning is the art of crafting symmetrical wooden pieces by using handheld tools to shape wood spinning on a lathe — what Young describes as the woodworker’s equivalent of a potter’s wheel. It starts with a piece of wood being “green-turned,” and then waiting anywhere from six months to a year for all the water in the wood to evaporate before it can be shaped.
It requires specialized tools and training, and it was something that Young did not pick up until after he retired in 2018 from 15 years as a quality assurance worker in the manufacturing field.
“I’ve done a fair amount of woodworking. I’ve built fibreglass boats, I used to race sailboats, I did a lot of woodworking on those as well. [But] I really don’t do a lot of flat woodworking anymore,” said Young, who added that his brother Bill is the one in the family who continues that art.
Young raced sailboats for 30 years from the age of 15 and competed in several provincial and national competitions. He also worked in a sailboat repair bay for a while, fixing up sailboats’ wooden reinforcements and beams. His real interest in woodworking and crafting came far before that. He credits a seventh grade shop class at Alta Vista High School for igniting that interest.
“I’ve always had a passion for it. I thought it would be nice to get a lathe,” he said. “I already knew I liked it, there wasn’t a big decision or a big surprise there. When I retired I decided that that was a good time, I would have time to put into it.”
His wife Suzanne made that dream come true and bought him a lathe when he retired. This gift was the key to getting his foot in the door. Then he signed up for a woodturning class at Lee Valley in Ottawa. Since then, Young has made dozens of bowls and cups, and even a vase.
Young prides himself on keeping his materials local, and gets almost all of it from in and around the Pontiac.
“I have a guy who is in the tree removal business who I’ve befriended. He supplies me with a lot of wood. So it’s from as far up as Fort Coulonge and as far down as, say, Quyon. So it’s mostly local,” Young said. “I’ve had a couple pieces come from the Ontario side. The furthest away would be Kingston.”
Not only does he keep his materials locally-sourced, but Young is also a big advocate for buying and selling local. He has sold much of his work at the Norway Bay Market this year, which he said has been a great experience for him.
“This is the first year I’ve been in the Norway Bay market, and the market really is good ... We’ve got really really good vendors,” Young said.
Young broke into the market after the organizer, Lana Cowley, saw his work and recommended he set up shop at 28 chemin Wharf, where Marche in the Bay was held twice a week during the summer.
“I must admit I was a little apprehensive to bring my work there,” he said. “It was because of Lana’s insistence that I came to the market this year. And the response has been overwhelming, it’s been a positive experience for me overall.”
Even on the days he didn’t sell anything, he was grateful for the people who stopped by to look at his work and talk with him about it. Young emphasized that the market is very important to him, his woodworking journey, and to Norway Bay as a whole. The local pride he feels from his work extends to the market, which he believes is a big asset to his hometown.
“We’ve lost a lot [in Norway Bay] in the last few years. We used to have a store but that’s closed now, so I think it’s really important to support local businesses and the market is one of them.”
While Young enjoys making and selling his wares, he said he does not wish to turn his passion into a business, as it would take out the enjoyment of the craft.
“It’s always going to remain something that’s fun. If it becomes too much of a business, I’m afraid it will not be fun, and I want it to be fun,” he said. “That’s not to say I’m not taking it relatively seriously. I have approximately 100 bowls drying in the basement. So I’ve got lots to do, I always have about 6 or 7 on the go.”
Young’s work can be found on Facebook through his page Bristol Woodturning.
“If I can learn it, other people can learn it, there’s no magic behind it. It really is a great hobby, it’s a very rewarding activity. It’s something that I very, very much enjoy.”
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