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,"
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
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