Build­ing a piece of history

Co­ley’s Point man recre­ates old town struc­tures

The Compass - - NEWS - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

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.

Pop­u­lar­ity

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.

PHOTOS BY MELISSA JENK­INS/THE COM­PASS

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.

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