ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Husqvarna in Hope: Wood Bear Carving with a Chainsaw

Updated on February 2, 2013

Between the Owl Street Cafe and the Hope Husky,

beneath misty mountains bridled with spring waterfalls,

I turn into the driveway at the carved bear and eagle.

Today the wood carver is "OPEN."

The sole witness to my arrival is a massive stone face under a maple tree, a boulder hewn from the mountains beyond Hope.

Where bald eagles and grizzlies hunt salmon on the carved cedar doorpost, a gnomish face in the handle keeps the gate to a kingdom of Middle Earth.

This is a workshop whose creatures spring out of ancient logs and blocks of wood from old growth trees of the British Columbian forest. Here are spirit teachers released from their matrix, unseen until the carver's "optic heart" (Avison, "Snow," 1960) hones their shape and sound. Pete Ryan comes from the back room to greet me and show me around.

“My first teacher was Don Colp, whom I met in the 70‘s while he was exhibiting his work in a mall, carving a bighorn sheep from a block of wood with a Frontier chainsaw. Soon I was carving bears with an Husqvarna to promote their chainsaws at the dealers. After that, I took a commercial art course for four years from a mail order school in Minnesota, following a curriculum written by Les Kobala, who also designed all the covers for the old “Field and Stream” magazines, and Norman Rockwell, another great magazine illustrator. I get ideas from the wood. As I take away the rough stuff with the chainsaw, I notice the shapes within and work with hand tools and airbrush techniques to bring out the details. My early pieces were rough, but from the beginning people liked them, and I have gotten better with every piece I carve.”

A stump uprooted from the mountain in a great mudslide and washed down the flooding Coquihalla River has become a glass end table with a shelf. Disaster turns to art. Now squirrels cavort along the top, bright eyed and busy tailed.

“Can you see the heron in the shelf?” Pete tests me.

I miss it, as do many. My eyes are open, but I see nothing until Pete points it out. The piece took over a year to complete.

Wooden masks and faces line the gallery walls.

A Kwakiutl Indian style eagle mask hangs in the corner near Spirit Woman and the blue guitar, finished with the work of Sabeana Golhoff, a Haida colleague who braided cedar strings and painted the interiors of the hinged mask in traditional patterns. Suspended from the ceiling of a room, the mask opens and closes with a cord pull, as spirit eagle flaps its wings.

Pete’s latest project, an eagle with pinions spread for flight, is drying for a few weeks. After careful inspection for hairline cracks that may appear as the wood dries naturally, Pete will finish it with varnish or oil, depending on whether the piece will go outdoors or indoors.

The model for the eagle, borrowed from his taxidermist friend, spreads its wings in the back room.

A chain saw roughs out the shape of the sculpture as fragrant flying woodchips litter his workshop floor. His wood of choice is BC Grade one yellow cedar logs, about $400 a metre. He then carves the details of beak, talon, feather, fur and scale with hand tools, like single and double-bladed knives or small chisels, or with small power tools, including a dremel and 1/2 inch belt sander. Occasionally he finishes a piece by airbrushing dark stain for the modelling and shadows.

He carves house posts for huge upright beams in log cabin homes around the world, especially in the US and Japan. One client there ordered a custom carving for the finials of cross beams that support the beachfront cabin floor, dolphins arcing in still curves toward the Sea of Japan.

Collaborating with various log home companies, he fulfills special commissions for clients who seek the unique signature his art brings to their homes and lodges.

Recently he has started carving picture frame bas-reliefs to hang above a fireplace--wall plates a metre by a metre and a half in which dolphins leap out of the wake, or a family of bears claws salmon out of rapids as the sun sets. He invested in a large table lathe for this work, carving the wood burl and highlighting it with a technique that makes it look like sunshine.

In his breaks he smokes a cigarette or plays his blue guitar and sings. A fiddle hangs on the wall of his office. Sometimes he plays it, too. Saturday nights you may find him down at Skinny's Grille, beneath his Hobbit Wall, jamming with the locals from Hope.

As well as carving signs and sculptures, Pete also restores antique furniture.

He has plans for a gallery tour. If you have a gallery and want to exhibit Pete Ryan’s work, or want to commission a unique signature piece, contact him here.

Located two hours drive east of Vancouver on the way to Kamloops, Sun Peaks, Kelowna, and the vineyard destinations of the Okanagan, his studio just west of Hope at 63010 Old Flood-Hope Road is handy to the last gas and meal stops before you enter the Coquihalla Highway. Meet Pete Ryan, part truck driver, part Renaissance man, part Pygmalion, whose creatures come to life. In an urban and digital world, they remind us of our roots in land and sea, and our condition as beings who still belong to and do not own the primeval forests, shores and mountains of our magical Earth.


Avison, Margaret. "Snow." The Winter Sun . University of Toronto Press. 1960.

Walk around Hope and See Pete Ryan's Work

Always Now (Always Now: Collected Poems)
Always Now (Always Now: Collected Poems)

Margaret Avison's collected poems vol. 1: "the optic heart must venture"

63010 Old Flood Hope Road, Hope BC:
Flood Hope Rd, Hope, BC V0X 1L2, Canada

get directions

Pete Ryan's workshop is 2 hours east of Vancouver near Exit 168 from the Trans Canada Highway on the way to Kamloops, Sun Peaks and Kelowna.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      I stop there, too, on the drive between Vancouver and Kamloops, where I live now. His property is for sale now.

    • Steve LePoidevin profile image

      Steve LePoidevin 

      6 years ago from Thailand

      Always enjoyed this guy's work! Used to drive by here on the way home to Princeton, where I used to live.

    • profile image

      Wood Carving Tools Master 

      7 years ago

      Amazing. Great techniques

    • hillrider profile image


      7 years ago from Mid-west United States

      Since coming here this is my favorite hub. Went and found Pete on line and spent the next half hour or so admiring his work. Hope adding a link is allowed...BTW-Ya got my vote.

    • elayne001 profile image


      7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Incredible work. Thanks for sharing. Congrats on the nomination and good luck.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      HI Janis, what a beautiful way of giving a review! I enjoyed your hub very much.

      Have you heard the good news? Your hub is a Hubnuggets nominee! To vote for the Hubnuggets:

      Participate in the Hubnuggets Forum to celebrate your nomination:

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 

      7 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      Amazing work! I have seen these in person and am glad to see then shared on HubPages!

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      7 years ago

      Thank you, tenderheart. I am new to Hubs and your comments are encouraging.

    • tnderhrt23 profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow! What an awesome hub! Well written, fabulous photos, inspiring art and artist! I love it!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)