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Carving by late Dashwood man survives Alberta floods of 2013

Marie and Danielle Bourbeau stand amongst the late Paul Bourbeau’s carvings in his Dashwood studio where his work is now for sale. - CANDACE WU PHOTO
Marie and Danielle Bourbeau stand amongst the late Paul Bourbeau’s carvings in his Dashwood studio where his work is now for sale.
— image credit: CANDACE WU PHOTO

Danielle Bourbeau received an unusual phone call last month.

It was from an Albertan woman named Ilsa Lange who said she found a carving in Fish Creek Park in Calgary nestled amongst the residual debris of branches and tree roots left over by Calgary's notorious flood of 2013.

Lange said despite the harsh winter, water and 12 months of time, the carving didn't sustain a single scratch or mark. She said, to her astonishment, it was found in "perfect condition."

The carving had a name faintly scratched in the side: Paul Bourbeau.

Danielle's father — Paul Bourbeau — was a Dashwood carver who died in hospital this past December.

The recovered carving resembles a face, one quite similar to Paul's.

"It's kind of spooky," Danielle told The NEWS from her father's old workshop in Dashwood where the rest of his carvings hang on the wall glistening in the light of day.

"Sometimes it feels like he's still here," she said.

The carving found in Calgary was made in 1980 and is currently en route back to the west coast.

Lange, who found the carving, said the piece sparked an unquenchable string of curiosity.

“It’s kind of mystical in a way,” said Lange. “When I first saw the carving it just struck me — I had to do something, it just wouldn’t leave me alone.”

Lange said she is “amazed” at how the carving withstood both the flood and the test of time.

“It’s really a story of survival,” she said. “It should have been buried in the mud decaying but it was preserved perfectly.”

Lange sent the piece to Haida Gwaii to be displayed at Chateau Norm, where she said it will be “properly appreciated” on the west coast.

As for Danielle, she has started the process of selling her late father’s work. Each piece is handcrafted from different types of locally sourced or traded wood including red and yellow cedar, fir, maple soapstone and ironwood.

She explains her father’s work is all over the world.

“Years back a friend of Princess Diana’s actually came and bought a piece as a wedding gift for her,” Danielle recalled. “And once a man from France with my fathers exact same name came into the studio to check it out.”

Danielle said her father even carved one of the signs welcoming people into Qualicum Beach which sits along the Island Highway.

Paul Bourbeau spent most of his life in the logging industry where his connection with wood burgeoned. He was a self taught carver and produced some extremely time consuming, unique pieces which now sit in his Dashwood studio.

“He was a storyteller and a joker,” said Danielle, about her father. “Being in nature was his life and something that is reflected in his work.”

Carvings by the late Dashwood carver Paul Bourbeau are now on sale in his studio located at 3931 Island Highway West.

For more information contact Danielle Bourbeau at 250-751-5844.

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