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Birdhouses And Potato Bins

A retired Ninette carpenter, who just can’t keep out of the workshop, is enjoying a boom in potato bin sales.

Fritz Clisby, 85 years old, is famous in the small town of Ninette for his fabulous marten houses. Each summer, samples of his vividly painted birdhouses, small furniture, chairs for children, and other woodwork are displayed for sale at Ninette’s annual summer fair. The demand keeps him busy with his saws and planers all winter long, says his wife Yvette, and there is no sign of the orders – or the man – stopping anytime soon.

“This winter he started making potato bins,” said Yvette. “That’s a new one. He sold five of them at Christmas. He makes ash urns out of oak, and the little and big marten houses. And little kids’ chairs.”

Fritz worked as a carpenter all his life for the Parks Department, said his wife, who often didn’t see him for weeks at a time while he worked in various areas of the province. She still doesn’t see him that much, since he spends the greater part of his day on the intricate woodworking projects. Once a carpenter, always a carpenter, it seems.

“I think the potato bins have taken off because more people are growing gardens again,” said Yvette, who takes the phone calls and orders on behalf of her husband of 52 years who is now a little hard of hearing. “He’s been making the furniture and marten houses ever since he retired. That was awhile ago now. He’s nearly 86, and he just loves to do it.”

The Clisbys can be reached at 204-528-3480.

– Kim Langen writes from Holmfield, Manitoba

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