It’s been said that age doesn’t matter anymore, and in many cases, that’s all too true. While arthritis, and other diseases keep many down in their senior years, for 90-year-old Roland Winsor of Triton, he isn’t going to let a number keep him back from continuing with passing on a tradition and a hobby that among most young people is lost or never even known about.
In the confines of his little shed, this Second World War veteran is surrounded by memorabilia from his days in the military, serving our country overseas in the great war. Photos, medals, plaques, and papers – all preserved for decades, are proudly on display for visitors from near and far.
In the middle of all that, though, sits a little work bench from which comes the miniature creations that he’s so proud of.
“Uncle Rolie” as many in the area know him as, has taken it upon himself to enlist a whole new generation of wood-cutters in his community. To do that, he’s set out to provide them with their very own set of traditional Newfoundland woodsleds.
The popular structures, which have been used by Newfoundland woodsmen for generations, started out being pulled by horses and men trying to get their winter’s logs to the river to be shifted to paper mills in Corner Brook and Grand Falls-Windsor. As time went on, the sleds were replaced in professional woods operations with heavy machinery – although they’re still being used by many for firewood retrieval and such, these days being pulled behind ski-doos instead of horses or by hand.
It’s a way of life that Mr. Winsor knew all too well growing up, and one that he doesn’t want to see lost on the younger generation, as it instils and attitude of hard work paying off, and getting something for the effort you put forward.
Many children in Winsor’s hometown have their own pint-sized ski-doos, so Uncle Rolie decided it be only fitting that they also be fitted out with their own pint-sized sleds.
The whole idea started as a project for his great-grandchildren. So far Winsor has constructed five sets of sleds, and given them as gifts to his family and local children in town. His latest project took about a month to complete, which was then handed over to Noah Thomas, son of a family friend of Winsor’s. Noah dropped by Uncle Rolie’s shed one day to pick up his present, which he plans to put to good use next year behind his mini-z ski-doo.
These hand made wood sleds are a treasured keepsake for all who have received them from Mr. Winsor. Uncle Rolie not only shows the great skill of a ninety-year-old but passes on a part of our Newfoundland heritage to the younger generation, that otherwise would be forgotten.
Between building these mini wood sleds, Mr. Winsor is now preparing for the upcoming lobster season. His hard work and dedication to his family is the main secret to his longevity.