By Sheila Borman
Special to The Record
Last month, Courtenay carver Bill Bolten had the pleasure of presenting Dr. Bonnie Henry with this beautifully sculpted bird, a yellow warbler.
Bill came up with the idea to give her a gift in thanks for all her dedication, and he was encouraged by his neighbours who know the quality of his work to ask if he could deliver it to her in person.
His son, David, introduced his father in a letter to Dr. Henry and Bill was excited when the offer was accepted.
“This carving took me about 50 hours to complete and I was thrilled to present it to Dr. Henry,” said Bill. “I was really nervous when I went to Victoria to meet her, but her calm approach made it so easy for me to talk to her. She actually accepted a hummingbird, too, so one carving is in her office and the other is in her home.”
David’s letter included some of these details about his father, who is known to many in the Comox Valley as not only a carver of distinction, but also an outdoor enthusiast. Born in West Germany in 1936, he and his wife, Klara, moved to Canada in 1957 where their family grew to include three boys, one girl, various pets and ultimately seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. Summers as a family were spent travelling the province with a tent trailer and camping in the wilderness whenever possible. Perhaps it was during these times that Bill’s appreciation of birds and wildlife was first fostered.
Bill enrolled in a carving class and quickly progressed from lovely chip carvings to detailed wildlife sculpture, his earliest example being a polar bear on the hunt. His carving style then shifted focus to concentrate more on life-like birds of prey. Some, such as a red-tailed hawk and a kestrel, were entered in the annual woodcarving contest at Qualicum Beach’s Brant Festival, garnering him First Place and Best in Division numerous times.
Bill now finds pleasure in delightful recreations of songbirds and backyard friends such as hummingbirds and chickadees in happy, joyful poses. Just what his hands will make next from wood awaits to be seen.
–With files from David Bolten