In the early 80’s Hotel Sidney built up a huge travel / dive market with hundreds of divers coming from Alberta to dive in the Emerald Sea in the winter months.
One night after one of our busy dive weekends an idea surfaced: We need a diver statue.
I approached a carver in Brentwood with my idea and he came back with a price of $ 1000.00/ ft plus the wood. That was a nonstarter. I then reached out to our pub patrons to see if there was anyone who could carve a wooden statue of a diver.
A few months later Al Porter showed up in my office and said ‘I want the job’. Al was a bowl and walking stick carver and had never tackled anything that large. I said OK, go down to the scuba shop and start drawing.
One month later Al came in with a drawing that looked great. Then Al said, ‘I’ve also got the wood! ‘. A friend of his had 3 standing red cedar trees that had been ringed and seasoned for 3 years. All we needed to buy was the piece we needed. I then negotiated an hourly rate and a rough amount of time that fit our budget to carve the diver.
We bought a twenty-five-foot tree trunk. Al brought it down to the waterfront, set up a tent and began carving with a chain saw.
Al covered the wood up every night with a salt water-soaked woolen blanket to make sure that the wood did not split.
While Al was carving, a Husqvarna chain saw rep gave him a small chain saw. Unfortunately, one of our hotel guests took offense to chain saw carving, could not sleep, and called the police. We lost that guest. Sorry!
At the end of one month Al had roughed out the diver statue to a recognizable form. I asked Al, ‘how much time do you need to smooth out all the lines, he said, ‘two weeks’ . So off he went with a slick and chisel and finished the job.
Al and I then went beach-combing and gathered up many logs. A cairn was built and the diver was placed on top.
The diver was an instant hit with people stopping to get their photos taken in front of the Hotel Sidney Resort Diver Statue.
A few years later and while in the process of developing the waterfront walkway I gave the Town our diver in exchange for a promise from the Town to maintain it.
40 years later I’m sitting with two local photographers, Chris Cheadle ( Chris used to work in our pub) and Dave Hutchinson, picking out local photography art for our rooms and we started talking about the Diver statue that had just been refurbished by the Town. Chris says, ‘do you know who the model was for the diver?’ I said no, Chris says, ‘it was me’! Al used me and all my
gear to figure out what a diver looked like ‘. Turns out Al and Chris were friends.
And that is the rest of the story.