In his eighties, Robert (Bob) Maas of Port Elgin, has a passion for
clocks that began as a young boy.
"My father did clock repairs and I often watched," says Maas,
although he admits to being mainly self-taught. "I remember sending a
letter to a company in England explaining that I wanted to know more
about clocks and clock repairs. They sent me two books ... one for
somebody who almost didn't know how to wind a clock and the second for
someone who had learned how. They never did send me a bill," he laughs.
He served in the Canadian Navy from 1944-46 but his livelihood after the
war was in the field of refrigeration. "I lived most of my life in
Toronto but I've always had close ties to this area. My parents lived
in North Bruce at one time and, since 1938, we had a family cottage in
Gobles Grove that I only recently sold. I remember in 1928, when the
great epidemic of infantile paralysis broke out in Toronto, my parents
brought me up to the Bruce to live with relatives and go to school to
get me away from it. Once it was over, of course, I was sent back."
Over the years, Maas worked on many clocks. "I maintained the
grandfather clock in the Toronto Legion and I could actually stand up
inside it. I also maintained the one at Black Creek Pioneer Village, the
heritage village in Toronto, for many years. They asked me one time if
I could look at the Town Clock in Southampton because it had not been
running for a long time, so I did. I looked it over starting at the
bottom and then climbed to the top. I took one look and knew it was far
beyond what I knew. Lucky for the Town, they asked
Walter from Vincent
Jewelers and he's been doing it every since. Let me tell
you ... he's the best! I only work on clocks but Walter can work on the
tiniest of watches too."
Today, Maas is still repairing clocks and his home is
filled with them. As the hour strikes, each chimes a different tone,
sounding almost like a choir of voices in different tones. Every clock
has a story, from the great-grandfather that stands impressively at the
door to the unique little pyramid clock that defies the uninitiated to
tell its time. Besides keeping busy with repairs and maintaining the
clock in the Port Elgin Legion, he also makes small cuckoo clocks that
he gives away at local bingos.
His work room downstairs is filled
with shelves that are filled with, what else? Clocks in various states
of repair. There are anniversary clocks, that Maas claims never work
right; there are shells of mantle clocks; there are the complete inner
workings of clocks everywhere.
There are tools of every description and some that defy description.
For instance, because Maas is becoming hard of hearing he has developed
a unique method of listening to the exact ticking of a clock. He has
figured out how to attach an ordinary baby monitor that amplifies the
sound so that anyone in the room can hear it. He also uses an immense
magnifying glass on a swing-arm that magnifies even the smallest clock
"I remember thinking one day of how handy a dentist's pick would be to
work on the tiny parts of a clock. I went over to a friend's house and
I told him of my idea. Lo and behold, he opened a drawer and it was
filled with dental picks of every description! I thought I had struck
gold! His brother, a dentist, had died and he inherited them. I ended
up with three that I still use today and they are, without a doubt,
three of my most valuable tools."
Small Steam Engine
A member of the North American Watch and Clock
Collectors (NAWCC) and, with a love of steam power, also a member of the
Train Club, Maas home is filled with parts, partially repaired clocks,
steam engine parts and tools. What's more, he knows exactly where
Parts of All Kinds