Pat Thorne Master Model Maker

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 Pat Thorne with a large model version of the famous 'Bluenose' sailing ship

 Bluenose, to scale, including all the rigging

 A special rocking horse to be raffled for Chantry Island

When the going gets tough, the tough get going and, for Alexander (Pat) Thorne of Southampton, there is no such word as "can't".

Thorne, named Pat because he was born on St. Patrick's day, March 17th, was a World War II veteran who was wounded in Italy. His injury has left him physically disabled but that has never stopped him from accomplishing whatever he set out to do.

He was born in Syndey, Nova Scotia and his wife, Diane, was born in Bridgewater, Lunerg County Nova Scotia. It wasn't until years later, however, that they met in Brantford, Ontario - two Nova Scotians who found each other. The couple eventually moved to Southampton on the Lake Huron Coast where they started the Holiday Trailer Park on High Street in Southampton. In addition, they have owned two stores, two restaurants and more than half a dozen houses while their son, Tim, a Master Electrician, owns Thorncrest Outfitters in Southampton and Paisley.

Today, Sunday November 21, Thorne is found in his favourite spot, his workshop. Entering the workshop is a little of what it must be like to enter Santa's workshop. There are the hand-carved, to-scale model ships everywhere, but there are also carved horses, birdhouses, Conestoga wagons, hummingbirds and Canada geese suspended from the ceiling and taxidermied fish on the wall. All these are the creations of Pat Thorne, master model boat builder.

Everywhere is a work in progress - a block of wood that will become a ship, a partially carved ship, a ship that needs only sails and another that is almost completed.

In another room, are other passions of Thorne's. Here, there is a model railroad town complete with buildings, trees, homes and, of course, trains and paintings, by Thorne, line the walls. "Whenever I get bored with one thing," says Thorne, "I move on to another."

In a third room is where the 'down and dirty' work is done. Here are the tools of the master boat builder. Saws, routers, chisels - they are everywhere as is the smell of fresh-cut wood. Partially completed Canada geese wings are ready to be sanded and balsam wood used for the ships lines the shelves. Tools hang from the wall and the work bench is covered in sawdust. It's evident this is a woodworker's ... paradise.

Thorne's ships and carvings are often sold for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and ... all of the monies go to the Salvation Army. "The Sally Ann, (affectionately referred to) helped all us young soldiers in the war so I donate all the money from by carvings to them," says Thorne.

He has also donated many carvings to local organizations, such as the Chambettes, for fund-raising purposes. Most recently, he has donated a carving of the famous 'Bluenose' ship, exquisite rocking horse and Canadian geese and ducks to be used as a fund-raiser for the local Marine Heritage Society (M.H.S.). The organization maintains the historic Chantry Island Lighthouse property and operates tours during the summer months to the island, where the M.H.S. has completely restored the Lighthouse Keeper's Quarters and surrounding gardens.

The M.H.S. is now looking forward to purchasing a new tour boat and, therefore, have started a fund-raising effort for which raffle tickets will be sold for the Thorne Carvings.

"I believe that if you help people, it will be returned you to you tenfold," says Thorne. "We have tried to live by that. I also believe that there is no such thing as 'can't' ... you can do whatever you make up your mind to do. I've never let a physical disability stand in the way of what I've wanted to do. Things happen. You just have to keep going."

 Thorne in his workshop

 Diane Thorne (right) shows a photo to visitor 'Lorraine' from Owen Sound

 Thorne explains, "It all starts with a simple block of wood."

 Ships line the walls ...

 ... and geese and ducks seem to fly

 Many of Thorne's life size Canada geese are suspended from great room vaulted ceilings in the area

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Sunday, November 22, 2009