Creation of toys brings great joy to Antigonish County’s Calvin Venedam – TheChronicleHerald.ca

creation-of-toys-brings-great-joy-to-antigonish-county’s-calvin-venedam-–-thechronicleherald.ca

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POMQUET, N.S. — Calvin Venedam’s satisfaction with creating wooden toys is surpassed only by seeing the joy of the kids who use them.

“They’re fascinated, and even some of the parents are fascinated by them,” says Calvin, a skillful woodworker and owner of Venluke Hand Crafted Wood Toys in Pomquet.

Venedam’s remarkable craftsmanship has been putting smiles on kids’ faces for the past 10 years. He creates a variety of wooden children’s toys – trucks, cars, heavy equipment, boats, farm animals, games, etc. – and is a regular vendor at the Antigonish Farmers’ Market.

“I haven’t made anything yet that I wasn’t able to sell,” he says.

Venedam is from Pomquet but moved to Pictou County in 1980. He worked for Michelin at the Granton plant in the chemistry lab for 37 years and dabbled in woodworking as a hobby. He retired in 2008, freeing up more time to spend in his workshop.

“I enjoy it so much that sometimes I don’t know when to come in at night,” he laughs. “I kind of lose track of time, especially if you’re doing something and you want to get it done; you don’t want to lose your train of thought.”

Venedam says he sees a lot of repeat customers. Among them is a woman who reached out to him after the holidays to express her gratitude for the wooden items he made for her granddaughter during the past two Christmases.

“It makes you feel good,” he said. “A lot of people appreciate what you do.”

Venedam’s workshop includes the basic tools of the trade – table saw, band saw, jig saw, drill press, planer, joiner, and a whole lot of sanders. He said he prefers to use glue on his toys instead of wood screws, and durability is never an issue.

“I’ve got trucks that my grandson had, and he had them outside, and they’re still holding together.”

Venedam, 68, prefers to work at his own pace and at his own designs. However, he has taken custom orders in the past, including a request from a woman for a hay baler for her son. The piece challenged his creativity, but not surprisingly, he was able to pull it off. 

“We sat down and made a little plan and made the baler, put the baler together and had a little door at the back, opened the door and had a little block of wood come out like a little bale of hay, and they were just tickled pink, just as happy as can be.”

A high chair made by Calvin Venedam. – Joey Smith

Venedam has had some unique requests over the years for his work – not all related to children’s toys. He’s been asked to make a wooden pig as a gag gift, a rolling pin holder and a container cap for a blender. 

“You get some strange requests,” he chuckles.

Venedam added a new dimension to his business during the past year; his girlfriend, Susan Pottie, is a talented painter who brought life and colour to some of his work. 

“So, we had some stuff at the market this year – little sleighs, where she painted the Grinch or something like that on them, so it added a little bit to the business,” he says.

Venedam says he feels right at home in his workshop – a place that provides an escape of sorts from everyday life.

“You go in there and you’re focused,” he said. “You got your mind on that and that’s all you got your mind on. It’s a big stress relief, really.”

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