PREECEVILE - Capturing the artist’s story in each art piece carved out of moose antlers is a difficult task, but for Sam McElhinney of Preeceville, it is a passion that engulfs him.
Each selected moose antler he uses was either purchased or given to him and with each precious etch from his carving blade he creates a beautiful one-of-a-kind piece of art. Each piece is very different and has its own story to tell.
For McElhinney it is a passion that he feels very strongly about. “I picked up the art when a buddy of mine was making them,” he said. “When I visited him I had brought him one antler to begin with and then the next time I had brought him two moose antlers, one for him to carve and one for me to try to carve under his guidance. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. That’s what was so great about it, with each piece I carve I don’t usually know what it will wind up as. I have been carving for over 10 years now and have created over 84 moose carvings to date. Each piece is carved by free hand, no stencil is every used.
It takes him approximately 60-80 hours to create an art piece from beginning to end. “It is a very dusty hobby but I absolutely love it. For me it is very rewarding, fulfilling and relaxing,” said McElhinney.
He is originally from Ireland and immigrated to Canada in 1976. When he first arrived, he landed in Winnipeg in January. He left Ireland to escape the unrest of his native country due to war. By trade, his selected career was as a meat cutter and later on, he worked in sales at various large meat industries, including Mitchells and Canada Safeway based out of Manitoba, Alberta and the United States.
He and his wife Jan of 42 years bought a cabin at Elbow on Lake Diefenbaker with the intention of retiring. But the couple moved to Preeceville 10 years ago and enjoy all that the area offers. McElhinney is an avid angler and hunter who has travelled all over North America and has a very impressive collection of mounted heads of a variety of big game animals such as: big horn sheep, moose, elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer and caribou. The highlight for him was the big horn sheep. He only keeps one head of each animal that he has every hunted. He also enjoys fishing, camping and golfing. In the couple’s retirement, they had even spent three months travelling across Canada in an RV.