By Ted Muir
Jack Yellowless of Winnipeg turned 84 last month. Like many carvers of his ilk, he only started carving in his early 60s, after he retired.
Jack always enjoyed working with wood. As a youngster he especially liked hunting over hand-made wooden duck decoys in the sloughs of Pembina Hills. In his early 30s he joined forces with a friend to build over 25 racing sailboats for provincial organized sailing competitions and classes. However like all twists and turns in life it was not until he was beyond his prime hunting years that he took up decoy carving.
Like many folks who start to carve Jack puttered around with blocks of wood but only felt good about the end result once he took a few carving courses. “Once I got some clear direction I began to enjoy carving and haven’t looked back since,” says Jack. “Mastering the art form has brought me immense joy, and best of all made me scores of life-long friends. Carving gave my life new direction and meaning.”
Jack in his retirement remained close to his hunting heritage. He has carved in excess of 80 life-sized and miniature working duck decoys and donated then to conservation organizations like Fort Whyte Alive and Ducks Unlimited Canada for fund-raising dinners. He has helped bring youngsters into the carving fold by running courses at his summer cottage near Ninette. He also served on the board of Prairie Canada Carvers’ Association and still carves with a group on Saturdays at the Oak Hammock Marsh Conservation Centre.
All in all it’s been great run and it’s not over yet.