Calgary

Retired puzzle enthusiast creates garage gallery with 50 completed jigsaws

Many of us are looking for creative ways to fight boredom during the pandemic, and for about two to five hours a day, puzzles are Calgarian Garth Wilcox's go-to pastime.

Garth Wilcox spends 2 to 5 hours a day on puzzles he tapes together and displays

50 puzzles piece together pandemic-inspired garage display, and he's not done yet

CBC News Calgary

1 month ago
2:16
We've all dealt with pandemic boredom in our own ways. For this Calgary senior, it was all about covering his garage with puzzles. 2:16

Many of us are looking for creative ways to fight boredom during the pandemic, and for about two to five hours a day, puzzles are retiree Garth Wilcox's go-to pastime.

In fact, the Calgarian has completed so many that he now has a gallery display of 50 completed puzzles covering three walls of his garage.

And though his interest in puzzles started long before COVID-19, Wilcox said the pandemic has allowed him to dedicate time to it.

"I started doing them way back when I was growing up in Saskatchewan, and have sort of just taken it up more earnestly, I guess, with the COVID," Wilcox said on the Calgary Eyeopener.

"I flip them over and then I tape them up with two-inch packing tape, and they're very sturdy then, and then I just staple them to the garage wall."

Supply and demand

There is not a specific theme that attracts Wilcox to a puzzle.

He has assembled landscape puzzles, bird puzzles, country and western puzzles, and puzzles of U.S. presidents. 

"I usually like the 1,000-piece ones. They're good for a couple [days], three days, and that sort of thing," He said.

"And then … I did one that was 4,000 pieces, and it was just too complicated."

Wilcox's pandemic puzzling was nearly disrupted by an early, isolation-induced shortage of jigsaw puzzles when so many people were looking for something new to do.

Wilcox says his favourite place to put the puzzles together is the dining room table. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

But they became easier to find as time went on, and his wife, Susan, picks them up for him at Winners or Walmart. 

"My wife keeps me quite well-supplied," he said. 

Relaxing, addictive and gratifying

At the moment, Wilcox is working away on a tough, Christmas-themed puzzle that he said was a delayed gift from the holidays.

"It is quite a complicated puzzle. It's got a lot of pieces that come together … at 45 degree angles," Wilcox said. "So, it's going to be quite a challenge."

A challenge, certainly — but also gratifying, he said. It fills the time, and reaching the finish line feels wonderful.

"It's relaxing, and then, after a while, it's quite addictive. When you get near the end, you want to finish it up," he said.

In the next couple of months, Wilcox expects to finish eight to 10 puzzles.

There is still space on the walls of his garage to fill, he said.

"I'm only about two-thirds done [filling the walls] now, so I got a good 35 per cent to do yet."


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

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