Alberta chainsaw artist slices her way into Calgary lumberjack expo

“You are just a little girl, why are you using those big chainsaws?” That’s what professional chainsaw artist Marina Cole says is a common reaction she gets at lumberjack shows.

'You are just a little girl, why are you using those big chainsaws?'

Marina Cole says there's a lot you can do with a piece of wood and a chainsaw. (Ellis Choe/CBC)

"You are just a little girl, why are you using those big chainsaws?"

That's what professional chainsaw artist Marina Cole says is a common reaction she gets at lumberjack shows.

"The rest is just amazement. You see something as a log and it turns into something."

Cole, from Medicine Hat, Alta., is in Calgary this weekend for the West Coast Lumberjack Show, a part of the Calgary Boat & Sportsmen's Show at the BMO Centre.

"I carve a lot of different things," she told The Homestretch on Friday.

Marina Cole works with a lot of types of wood: spruce, cedar, poplar, for creations like this waving bear. (Ellis Choe/CBC)

"I love doing female form. I do a lot of wood spirits, and a lot of dogs, bears, insects and eagles. I've been doing this for two years so it's still new to me, but I am loving every minute of it. I got into this when I was hand carving and I ran into Kevin Lewis who was in Edmonton. He taught me the ins and outs of the chainsaw, trying to use them safely, sharpening them, and maintenance. It just changed my life. I love the fact that I can just be creative. I have so many thoughts in my mind and so many objects that I want to get out."

Cole works with a variety of wood types.

"I use a lot of driftwood, a lot found wood, wood that I get from fallen trees. Spruce, cedar, poplar, I use quite a bit of everything."

And a bit of everything, is what professional lumberjack Scott Thompson says people can expect at the show.

Professional lumberjack Scott Thompson says axe throwing started as a way to avoid carrying a heavy axe from tree to tree. Now it's a sport. (Ellis Choe/CBC)

"Axe throwing, log rolling, maybe even pull a saw," Thompson said.

He says axe throwing has an interesting background.

"It's a double-bitted axe. We used to use these back in the day. They would use one edge of the axe to chop through the tree bark and rough bits. The other edge is just for nice clean wood, that would stay nice and sharp. They would take that axe and they would throw it at the next tree they were planning on falling, so they didn't have to carry it from tree to tree," Thompson said.

"Now we have made a sport out of that. A bullseye is the end grain of a stump. We chuck our axe at it from about 20 feet away and see who can hit it."

West Coast Lumberjack Show owner Darren Dean says people are impressed to see a small chair carved in about a minute. (Ellis Choe/CBC)

West Coast Lumberjack Show owner Darren Dean says people outside of the lumberjack community are often dazzled by the skills on display.

"One of the crowd favourites is, we start off the show with a small block of wood sitting in the front. It's about six inches. I will take the saw and start carving. It takes me about 60 seconds. The crowd is always amazed, because when I flip it over, it's actually a little chair," Dean said with a laugh.

West Coast Lumberjack Show grinds to a halt Sunday at the BMO Centre.


With files from The Homestretch and CBC's Ellis Choe