For this month, the Winnipeg River Arts Council features Cathie Brereton, a wood carver from RM of Lac du Bonnet. Born and raised in Ottawa, she’s been coming out to the family cottage since 1990. After retirement from Winnipeg careers in 1994, Cathie and husband Rick became year-round residents.
When Cathie saw how much Rick enjoyed carving, she tried it. In Winnipeg, they belonged to a group called “Les Gens du Bois.” This name means “people of the wood” and is taken from the title of a book by Benoit Des Chenes, whose carvings can be found in St. Boniface churches, hospitals, and many other places. In June, the Breretons plan to visit him in his home town, Ste. Jean Port Jolie, Quebec – “The Carving Capital of Canada.”
Brereton’s passion for wood and wildlife drive her art. She says, “I also love it because I get to spend time with Rick, carving and going to shows. Also, I like the creative process, the freedom of forgetting about perfection.”
She has won various acclamations, including “Best of Show” and “People’s Choice” in Lake Bronson, Minnesota, and also awards from Prairie Canada Competition in Winnipeg. She loves classes and shows, and says, “The people we meet are so interesting, a whole different culture, getting together and sharing secrets.”
The preferred material is basswood, from Minnesota. It is a hardwood and holds details, but doesn’t chip or crumble.
The Breretons host informal classes at their Cape Coppermine home. About twenty-seven adults attend, (but not all at once) to learn about reading grains and handling tools. Brereton says “People just throw in a few bucks to pay for materials. I’m always amazed by how quickly people learn and how projects turn out.”
Brereton also quilts and belongs to the Riverside Quilters, and enjoys creating beaded bracelets. Along with her work as reeve, she has more than enough to keep herself occupied.