Fifth generation woodcarver Thomas Cote received his first jack knife at age 11 from his mother who was also a woodcarver, and from there he began wittling. Cote took classes, and even taught wood carving as a fine arts class. He not only teaches his students, but also his grandchildren. Cote’s granddaughter Elizabeth, is currently working on a real carousel horse, and he hopes that at least one of his grandchildren carries on his woodcarving legacy.
” I always hoped somebody would. None of my two kids wanted to, so when Elizabeth wanted to it kind of made sense that it is going to keep going to another generation, and I’m sure my mother would have been just estatic,” says Cote.
Along with teaching his grandchildren the art of woodcarving, he has many projects of his own including carving eight signs for the Acadian Congress. These signs will be displayed along the highway in the Saint John Valley stretching from Portage to Hamlin. Cote says the signs each take an average of 350 hours not including the design phase and glue-up of the panel. The signs will be displayed permanently for generations to see.
“I always said I wanted to do something I could leave behind so that people especially my grandkids , if they drove by they could say oh you know pop did that. Also I’ve had some of my students work on them so there will be little plaques with their names and I think that’s kind of neat,” says Cote.
Cote loves the challenge that Acadian-style wood carving brings. He has a carving on every continent except Antarctica, but he says he’s working on that.