Allan Wayne Dick Jr
September 9, 1946. Born to Allan & Agnes Dick
Tseshaht First Nation, Port Alberni, B.C.
I will be turning 64 this year, but my life did not start until shortly after my 45th birthday. It was then that I chose to live a life of being aware of every minute of the day.
For 9 years, I was still undecided on where I was going, I drifted from job to job, and when I could afford to, I started to buy woodworking power tools. Somewhere within this time, I started thinking about my culture. I wanted to feel what people of the past had experienced, so in my 1st year, I asked my Dad to show me how to build a Dougout Canoe. He said he would gladly teach me, and jokingly added, “Why did you wait until I was almost 80 years old?”
In early April, we went out and chose a 6’ wide by 40’ long tree, and a few days later, it was delivered to my home, courtesy of a local Logging Company.
It was approximately 3 ½ months from start to finish, and I what I learned, is that I was truly drawn back to my culture; physically, spiritually, as well as emotionally. For the first time in my life, I started to take pride in who I was, not only as a person, but as a Tseshaht. It was pure joy, and it gave me a real sense of pride, to watch my Dad, even at his age, swing a double bladed axe with the precision and dexterity of a young man, my Mom sitting in her chair day after day, giving us moral support.
After the canoe project, I was still uncertain which way I wanted to go, only that it had to be 1st Nations. I did not consider myself an Artist. Carving and painting were put on the back burner , although I knew I would like to try my hand at those art forms in the future.
5 years ago, through my nephew Gordon Dick, I met a man who knew the art of bending wood. As my relationship with him developed, I mentioned to him my desire to learn what he knew. Six months later he offered to come to my home to teach me. Mr. Eli Milton came in and spent 3 days with me, and introduced me to the art of bending wood. Although that was hardly enough time, I will be eternally grateful for what he has taught me.
I developed a real hunger to know more, and for the next 2 years, through trial and error, I began my learning journey of such a beautiful art form. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I made an effort to learn from each one.
Today, 4 ½ years later, I am not 100% happy with my work, but getting closer. The one word I hear most when it comes to describing my work is “Beautiful”, and one woman even cried when I presented her with a 6” x 9” bentwood box that I had just completed. The sense of joy, pride and accomplishment that I’ve witnessed when it comes to my work is pretty much the driving force to continue and improve on what I do.
The one regret I have is, “Why did I wait so long”. The ability to step into the unknown has always been a phobia for me, but the Canoe Project, and learning to make the bentwood boxes through trial and error has helped me pass that stage of my life.
Along with the two projects and what I was taught by my parents has brought me to where I am today.
I would like to develop a successful business, at some point in the near future. I take great care in building each bentwood box, and would never let one go to market if I was not happy with it. This policy, I will always keep.