'Heartbroken' widower, 91, from Woolwich, Ont., hopes lost ornately carved cane is returned

For John A. Weber of Woolwich Township in Ontario, losing his cane recently is much more than just about being able to stay mobile. It has deep sentimental value, so the 91-year-old and his family hope someone picked it up and will return it.

Cane was gift from his daughters to mark their mother's death 8 years ago

Senior man looks off to right, sits in front of lake and trees with wooden cane.
John A. Weber is pictured with the cane his daughters gave him. Hand-carved from wood from Weber's sugar bush, the cane went missing earlier this month when it likely fell off his golf cart as he was driving in Woolwich Township. The family is hoping someone has picked it up and will return it. (Submitted by Susan Weber)

Since this story was published, the cane has been found. Read more here.

John A. Weber has lost his cane.

But for the 91-year-old, the cane is about more than mobility.

And it's no ordinary cane.

It's hand-carved from spalted maple, and the wood came from the sugar bush where he's lived and worked his entire life near Conestogo in Woolwich Township. Spalted maple is wood that has dark lines and grains in it because it has started to break down and decay.

"Before it rots, it has like a grain through it, and then you can do something with it," Weber told CBC News. "It's wood from the bush. We tap maple trees here. We used to make probably 500 gallons of maple syrup every year. And that cane is part of the wood that I made maple syrup from."

Senior man standing with cane and gives thumbs up.
Weber is shown with his cane from his daughters. It's made of wood from spalted maple. (Submitted by Susan Weber)

He believes he lost the cane earlier this month while out on his golf cart, one to three kilometres from his farm.

Weber's daughter, Peggy Nitsche, said he drove the golf cart along Sawmill Road, turned onto New Jerusalem Road, then along Northfield Drive back to Sawmill Road.

"As soon as he got home from his trip, he noticed that the cane wasn't there. So he drove the route again right away," Nitsche said.

"He couldn't see it. So my feeling is that it's not really lost. I believe it's been found and someone just doesn't know who it belongs to. That's what I'm hoping."

The cane was a gift to Weber from Nitsche and her sister Ann Weber to mark the death of their mother eight years ago. A man named Wayne, who belonged to the Waterloo Woodworking Club, carved the cane.

"It is beautifully carved," Nitsche said.

Photos show an intertwined design near the handle of the cane.

Older man sits on outdoor bench talking to younger man.
Weber, left, sits and talks with his son Tim in this photo. His daughter Peggy says he loves to tell people about his cane, which was a gift from his daughters to mark his wife's death eight years ago. (Submitted by Susan Weber)

Weber said he's trying not to think too much about the fact it's missing. He's using another regular cane in the meantime.

"You can either dwell on it or you can let you and your spirit decide that life goes on," he said. "Between my spirit and I, we've put that aside and don't dwell on it because it will bury me if I do."

Nitsche said her dad took the cane everywhere and he loved when people would ask about it.

"He is heartbroken. It would just mean the world to my dad to get that cane back," she said. "He's often described it as his heart."

The family is asking anyone who has the cane or may know of its whereabout to contact them at 519-588-2153.

Senior man poses for photo in front of yellow car.
Weber's cane, now lost, was never far from him. Here, he poses in front of a classic car with it by his side. (Submitted by Susan Weber)


Kate Bueckert


Kate has been covering issues in southern Ontario for more than 15 years. She currently works for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. Email:


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