Building a piece of history
Coley’s Point man recreates old town structures
For some, retirement is a time to take it easy after decades of work.
Walter Mercer may be retired, but there’s no way he’s slowing down.
The former butcher at Mercer Brothers’ Meat Market in Coley’s Point retired five years ago. At 70 years of age, he has taken on a new and interesting hobby — woodworking.
He began his retirement by managing his barn and farm animals — he has a cow, turkeys and other animals. He still does this during the warmer months. His wife Doris joins him outdoors in the summer and they both keep busy.
But in the winter, there is no work to do in the barn and the weather isn’t the best for heading outdoors. Doris has put together dozens of puzzles over the years, but Walter wanted to try something new to pass the time in the winter.
He built furniture for his family for a couple of years, but then three years ago he decided to up the ante. He began building replica homes and businesses.
If you build them
The first project was not based off of any particular home. He just began building. But the following year, he decided to make his project more personal.
Only about 100 metres from Walter and Doris’ home on Kelly’s Road is the old meat market. Directly across the street is the home where Walter and his family grew up. That was his first replica.
“I like that one,” he said pointing to the home when asked which one is his favourite so far.
Little miniature people have been placed inside open doorways and windows. Walter laughs when asked about them, but could only shrug to his reasoning for putting them there.
The wooden structure looks just like the real home from the outside, including the paint, which Doris looks after. He followed that project with the meat market building.
The following year, he built a scale model of the former Victoria Loyal Orange Lodge, which is the oldest public building in Bay Roberts. Walter has been a longserving member of that organiza- tion.
This past winter presented his most difficult challenge to date — the former Grace United Church.
The building has since been torn down and replaced, but to Walter, the memory will live on. Not only was it the church he grew up going to, he believes it’s the same church he was baptized in.
Because the building is no longer around, Walter used a photo to create the church, including all the large windows and working doors. It also has a light inside which Walter will light in the winter.
The church has been placed on the Mercer’s front lawn, to the left of their house, while the rest of Walter’s projects are displayed in the couple’s back yard. Although few people know about them, if it catches somone’s eye from the street, they will take a look.
“People slow down all the time when they see it,” Walter exclaimed.
Since no one else knows about the other buildings in the back, they don’t often get out to take a gander, but Walter doesn’t mind people seeing how much hard work he has put into them.
When asked what his next project was going to be, Walter said he had no idea.
“I’ll decide that in the fall.” he said.
There isn’t even a short list — he really has no clue.
His great-niece Ashlee Parsons was by his side while he spoke with The Compass.
“He is very proud of these replicas,” she said, noting he put a lot of time and effort into doing them.
But for the remainder of the summer, you will find Walter out in his yard, taking in the rays of sun, taking care of the animals and talking to anyone that happens to pop by to take a look at his works of art.
Walter Mercer stands next to a replica of the former Grace United Church of Coley’s Point, which he built last winter.
A replica of Walter Mercer’s old house and family business, which he made in his workshop.
This house was Walter Mercer’s first project.