Story and Photos by Marlene Wandel
It’s not every day that there’s a guy running a chainsaw on a busy downtown street at 20 below—except around here, on Algoma Street, where Lee Fedorchuk shows up on weekday mornings, unlocks his storage container across the street from Frank’s Laundromat, and does just that. The sun shines and the sawdust flies. Every year, Fedorchuk harvests wood, mostly white and red pine, and cedar, through a personal use permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; his chainsaw work doesn’t stop there. People, plants, and animals emerge from the wood with the tender ministrations of Fedorchuk and his chainsaw. Some years, up to 10 cords of wood are transformed.
Fedorchuk has been chainsaw carving for 23 years, and has set up “shop” in various locations around Thunder Bay. It’s hard to picture an impulse purchase of a six-foot sculpture, but surprisingly, Fedorchuk says drive-by traffic is a big part of his business. Seconds later, a pedestrian stops by and asks about a sculpture he had seen in progress a few weeks ago. Not everything is amenable to being carved here; while the life-sized toy poodle might be easy to haul in and out of the storage container, the ten-foot bears or killer whales are more suited to working on in the shop.
The shop, also used for finishing and sealing the sculptures, is where Fedorchuk says he likes to also work when it’s too cold out. It’s -24C this morning, and the wind does nothing to mitigate it; if this isn’t “too cold” to work outside, it’s hard to picture what kind of cold might actually drive him inside. There are plans for a small woodstove in the storage container, but the next thing on his carving list is a 10-foot tall Viking.
Today there is a walleye emerging from a chunk of wood, though some might call it a pickerel. A pair of eagles is keeping a watchful eye, and a dog has his eye on traffic. A few end tables are lining the sidewalk, looking like the perfect place to place a cup of coffee, if not for the fact it would quickly freeze solid.
For more info, visit North of Superior Carvings on Facebook or call (807) 632-2646.