Dief to get carving from Valley 'whittler'
By BILL COLLINS
When city councillors decided that a hand-carved buffalo would be an appropriate gift for John Diefenbaker, it followed quite logically that they commissioned Hubert Klatt to do the carving.
A carpenter, Mr. Klatt has carved a variety of animals as gifts to such notables as Lt.-Gov. Pauline McGibbon, Premier William Davis, the late Governor-General George Vanier and former
provincial Liberal leader Robert Nixon.
Mr. Diefenbaker, Potentate of Shrine Tunis Temple in Ottawa, is to attend a Shriner's convention here this weekend to officiate at the "opening" of a Shrine wishing well - a collection for charitable works, at the Pembroke Mall.
Mr. Klatt's craving for carving developed before he was eight years old.
"I used to whittle away at something during the noon hours, at school," he recalled. "Then I'd run all the way home to work at whatever I was doing there."
By the time he was 12 he had finished a "circus group" including 10 wagons, at least 36 horses and most of the animals seen in a three-ring circus. It's 30 feet long.
Having worked in lumber camps as a young man, Mr. Klatt learned about wood "from the ground up."
Native wood used
For his carvings, he uses white birch, basswood, cherry, pine and butternut, all native to Renfrew County.
At one stage in his carving career, "when times were hard" he sold his wares on the highway.
Now, his customers come to his home.
They have come from all parts of Canada and many of the United States, and have left the Klatt workshop with carved fish, dogs, horses, bald-headed eagles, beavers, moose, wolves, cougars, lynx and buffalo.
Written orders have been filled for customers in California, England, Norway and Germany.
Most of the wild animals Mr. Klatt carves have been studied by him "in the bush". He has had even closer ties with domestic types, including a bush horse with which he regularly shared his
A distinctive feature of a Klatt carving is that the entire work, including the base, is a single piece of wood.
"When someone buys a moose like this - or any of the others - tell him if he doesn't believe me he can cut it off the base at the feet," Mr. Klatt said. "If he can show me that they've been dowled into the base, I'll buy it back from him."
His method of curing wood in preparation for carving is a trade secret.
"A lot of nosy people come in here just to find out something that is none of their business," he said. "It's funny the different kinds of people you run into."
He recalled the owner of a chauffeur-driven Cadillac, encountered when he was selling on the highway.
"He wouldn't buy anything his wife wanted. He would say, 'It's just a piece of wood' - and some of them were only $1.25 in those days," Mr. Klatt said. "He wouldn't buy her a snack at the booth that was there either. He said she had had her breakfast."
Another secret, of a more personal nature, is Mr. Klatt's age.
"Even when I retired from AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Chalk River) I asked them not to publish my age," he said. "It's nobody's business. Some people are just totally nosy."
Ottawa Journal article
Pembroke, Ontario, Canada