Carving out a piece of history

Sherry Martell
Published on August 12, 2010
Since mid-July, East Earltown resident Fred Tarasoff has been at the Wallace and Area Museum carving a mural into a piece of Wallace sandstone depicting Mi'kmaq mythical cultural hero Glooscap building a stone canoe on the shore at Blomidon. Sherry Martell - The Citizen

WALLACE - Fred Tarasoff is carving out a reputation as a new attraction this summer at the Wallace and Area Museum.

For the past few weeks, the East Earltown resident has been working beneath a canopy in front of the museum, putting his original mark on a piece of authentic Wallace sandstone and chatting with visitors as they arrive.

"They are curious about the early stages," said Tarasoff, while tapping on an antique stonecutter's chisel with a wooden mallet.

"I don't mind socializing with people. They are on holidays, they are happy."

Tarasoff is well known in the local area as a bagpiper appearing at several events during summer months. However, lesser known are his woodcarving skills, which has blossomed into working with a new challenging medium.

"The museum has a display about Wallace sandstone so, I just happened to come along and it fit with what they do," he said.

Museum curator David Dewar said they are very pleased to have Tarasoff demonstrating stone carving to visitors and feels he has really added to the museum's featured exhibit telling the area's 199-year-long history of quarrying sandstone.

"It really augments our message," said Dewar. "We talk about shipping stone and building with stone but then they can see it being carved as well."

The flat stone was purchased from the Wallace Quarry and measures about one metre by a metre and a half; the largest Tarasoff has worked with since picking up stone carving tools about a year ago.

The original design now coming to life is of the great Mi'kmaq legend Glooscap building a stone canoe. A tidal scale designed to represent the rising 16-meter high tides of the Bay of Fundy was weaved into the carving, along with one rabbit for each of the measurements hopping on Glooscap's body.

The carver said he was inspired to include rabbits because he has always been amused by the name of Pugwash's Rabbittown Road, and he once viewed a statue inside the Vatican called the Nile.

"It was a man in a reclining position with little people positioned on him marking the rise of Nile tides so, I just thought I'd use rabbits to mark the tides of the Bay of Fundy," said Tarasoff.

He said he is very goal oriented and the more he carves more creative ideas come to the surface of the design.

Tarasoff will be at the site working on his project until the end of August.