Collection of Indigenous carvings for sale online sparks reunion with artist's family
TIMMINS -- A collection of wood carvings by an Indigenous man has made their way back into the arms of his daughter.
The collection, owned by the Del Guidice family in Timmins for 30 years, was handcrafted by Tobie Mathews in the early 1990s.
Peter Del Guidice, now retired, once owned Alfie's Cigar Store in downtown Timmins. He said Mathews would come in to the store and ask Del Guidice if he'd want to buy any of his carvings.
"I liked him ... and the carvings really caught my eye," said Del Guidice.
A stately eagle was Del Guidice's first purchase.
“I really really liked it and ... over the next year and a few months he (Mathews) would periodically come in with more carvings and I kept buying them," he said. "So we accumulated about seven of them and after about 15 months, we never saw or heard from him again.”
Mathews passed away more than 20 years ago and his wife died last year. Their daughter, Colleen Carpenter, who lives in Kirkland Lake, recently asked her father for a sign that he was still watching over her and her two sisters -- Judy Martin in Cochrane and Samantha Mathews in Timmins.
Her sign came the following day when Del Guidice decided to put the collection of carvings up for sale online.
'We had two immediate reactions'
“We had two immediate reactions," said Del Guidice, "And, as it turned out, they were both his daughters ... We immediately took them off the Internet and said this is where they belong."
“I’m overwhelmed with joy -- it’s kind of surreal to have a piece of my dad back," said Carpenter.
She said the money her father earned from selling the carvings provided for his family.
“It was survival ... it was to get groceries, really, it was just to feed us girls and we were always part of the adventure out looking for the cedar; sitting with him; and I remember almost most of them," she said.
Carpenter said her family moved around quite a bit and they didn't keep many of their possessions. She thanked Del Guidice for keeping the carvings in excellent condition.
She said she and her sisters are creative in their own ways and being reunited with these carvings is inspiring them to pick up where their father left off and try their hands at creating wood carvings.