For over a century, the beautifully-carved, wood horses at Chippewa Park in Thunder Bay, Ont., have been giving families and kids something to look forward to every summer. But after years of wear and tear, the C.W. Parker carousel is in need of some desperate rehabilitation.
"My favourite part of this carousel is that it has an energy and special carving in each of its horses and it promotes speed even though the carousel isn't running," said restoration specialist Lisa Parr.
Parr — who has over 30 years of experience restoring cultural carousels — has been invited to Thunder Bay by the Friends of Chippewa Park stewardship group to give her expert opinion and advice during efforts to fix up the historical ride.
Built sometime between 1918 and 1920, the carousel, commonly known as the Chippewa-merry-go-round, is in "much better condition," than similar models that Parr normally sees.
"Usually they are so disregarded because they are considered a simple horse that not many have survived," Parr explained. "Because of the work of the park helpers ... who have devoted their time to preserving these animals every winter ... they are able to be saved and that in itself is unusual."
Parr continued to explain how each horse was individually crafted with "27 pieces of wood or more," by specific people in the Parker factory.
"Some people were designated to carve legs, some carved the bodies and then a master carver would carve the head and the neck," Parr explained.
Which is why each horse is individually different.
She said with a bit of elbow grease and lots of time and dedication, the merry-go-round will be able to be restored to a more stable condition than it is now.
Parr added that she's also writing a guide book with information on what each horse should look like after it's been restored, the kind of work it might need and possible problems that could arise during restoration.
An information session with Parr was scheduled at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery at 7 p.m on Nov. 7th.