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'I enjoy every minute,' Kingsville artist creating War of 1812 fleet replicas

A Kingsville artist and retiree spends a lot of time in his basement studio creating replicas of ships — from scratch.

Michael Laforet says creating a ship can take as many as 500 hours

Michael Laforet is a retiree who lives in Kingsville. When he's not building ship replicas he's a crossing guard in the town. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

It's not easy or cheap to make replicas of tall ships, but a Kingsville artist puts in the time anyway.

In Michael Laforet's basement studio, there are books on rigging, power tools and saws and of course, boats.

"It's the history behind it," the retiree said. "And it's able to use my hands and show some of the people what took place during the years of the 1800s."

Each ship replica is made of many small parts. Some will move just like they would be on a real ship. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Before working on ship replicas, Laforet used to build WWII aircraft models and paint them. His first tall ship was the HMS Surprise.

Now he's working to recreate the entire fleet used in the War of 1812. Each one can take up to 500 hours to create, because he has to hand-make the materials used in the boat.

The first ship replica Laforet built is the HMS Surprise. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"Rudders that can actually move," he said, and "rigging you can actually hoist up, it does take quite some time to make all these things."

"I enjoy every minute of it," said Laforet, who sometimes puts in 12 hours of work in a day if the weather isn't the best.

To do research on the fleet, he has been working John McLeod from the Fort Malden Historic Site in Amherstburg.

WATCH Kingsville artist Michael Laforet creating replicas of ships from scratch:

Kingsville artist creating War of 1812 fleet replicas

4 years ago
Duration 1:17
A Kingsville artist and retiree spends a lot of time in his basement studio creating replicas of ships — from scratch.

Laforet said some ships used in the war were built in a naval yard in Amherstburg, such as USS Lady Prevost.

"Hopefully when [the squadron] gets on display at Malden, they can see what took place during that period of time," he said.

With files from Katerina Georgieva

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