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King of Woods Automotive Crafts

He's the King of Wooden Automotive Crafts
LANGLEY TIMES (date) Written by: Janis Foster Photo by: John Gordon

HENRY FORD had a vision of functional, basic, transportation for every family in America.

Pierre J. Lachance has an entirely different and aesthetic vision: he transforms the metal sculpted lines of vehicles into the warm radiance of wood.

Lachance, 32, has parlayed his love of conveyances and construction vehicles into an art form that is winning raves–and plenty of sales orders–from automotive enthusiasts. His handcrafted wooden classics were proudly on display at Willowbrook Shopping Centre's "Just for '95" car show two weeks ago.

Lachance started his wood carvings while still an adolescent. The Cloverdale resident explains, "I always had a passion for automotive things and I dreamt of owning a Porsche. I just started creating my own. I thought, if I want it, I'll build whatever I want. I'll fill my hearts desires."

Twenty years later, the father of four continues to work from books and magazines, enhancing his designs into "instant specs" with computer graphics before crafting his vehicles with oak, alder and black walnut.

"I'm using a primitive format and integrating it into a very high tech format. I go with the past and the future and integrate them together for the now," he says.

Whether it's a boxy jalopy, a sleek and aerodynamic sports car. a chrome laden Chevy with outsized fins, Lachance approaches each reproduction with equal enthusiasm.

"I build everything–everything you can think of. You name it, I've got it. No one does what I do at the scale and the speed and with so much variety. I go from a Harley Davidson to a tractor trailer to a Jaguar."

"I spend two to three days on one item and start on another...It's unlimited. It doesn't stop. I like creating, creating, creating and creating with new concepts."

Lachance also hand crafts wooden toys and this Christmas donated 160 of his pieces to the children at Langley Memorial and Sunnyhill Hospitals. He took the remaining packages and gave them away door to door to children in lower-income housing complexes.

Sizes for Lachance's pieces range from miniature cars and trucks to expansive ships to full size motorcycles. Most of the pieces are custom built to order.

His joy comes in experimenting with the sculptural appearance of a vehicle and the challenge of perfecting each piece. His lifelong ambition is to become "The King of Wooden Automotive Crafts" and he believes that goal is well on the way to being realized.

"I do it as an art and I survive off it. I don't do it for the money–if I did I would have been out of it a long time ago. I do what I do because I love what I do."

Home Made Toys For Kids
AGASSIZ HARRISON OBSERVER (23-DEC-2003) Written/Photo by: James Baxter

Agassiz wood sculptor Pierre Lachance loads up his vehicle with home made toys––including baby doll cribs, a bean bag game and toy cars––for donation to the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children in Vancouver.

King of wood automotive crafts

" I've been designing and carving wood models for 35 years" states Pierre. "My handcraft wooden modles range from miniature cars to full size motorcycles.
"I preserve past and present elite stunt driver's legacys online at www.autothrillshows.com. I've been building models for them, including Jumper Evel Knievel's XR750 wooden Harley stunt bike that was built with his permission. My dad, Bobby Chance, worked for Evel in the 70's. I've also built the only official Vancouver Molson Indy wooden Firestone Fire Hawk replica model. The model is presently on display at the Agassiz public library".
"I always had a passion for automobile things, crafting my vehicles out of oak, alder and black walnut, etc".
Whether it's a boxy jalopy, a sleek and aero dynamic sports car, or a Chevy with oversized fins, I approach each piece with equal enthusiasm".
"Every year, I handcraft wooden toys and donate several of my pieces to childrens hospitals".
"I don't carve for money, but rather as a labour of love. This is also great therapy for me since my accident when I was hit by a car at the age of seven".
"I have an entirely different and aesthetic vision; I transform the metal sculpted lines of vehicles into the warm radiance of wood'.
'Ive parlayed my love of constructing vehicles into an art form, and have been winning raves at past shows from automotive enthousiasts".
"As for Evel Knievel's wood model, I'm almost done and proudly plan to display my hand-crafted wooden classics at Harrison Hot Spring Beach for the public to view for free".
"Folks can also visit my Art Gallery online at www.pierrelachance.com".

Woodworker Shows His Stuff in Harrison
AGASSIZ HARRISON OBSERVER (date) Written by: James Baxter Photo by: James Baxter

"Whoa!" The little girl can barely believe her eyes. She is standing on her tiptoes with arm outstretched, her tiny hand reaching up toward one of the best toys she has ever seen.

Her mom tells her not to touch, but the girl is already edging closer to the repilca sailing ship, running her finger along the wood hull. Her eyes are like saucers as she examines the detailed rigging and follows the row of cannon barrels that peek from tiny windows, ready to unleash an imaginary barrage upon an invisible adversary.

The tall three-master, a work-in-progress, is more than a metre long and getting it's share of attention from kids and grown-ups alike. Visitors to the Harrison festival of the Arts are getting an eyeful of the vessel, which is resting on a work-table beside the beachfront sidewalk.

Craftsman Pierre J. Lachance, 41, is encouraging them to gather round and watch as he brushes the boat with a piece of sandpaper. He leans into the project, scraping away small imperfections while a few more people approach.

For Lachance, this is what it is all about.

"I love it because I like capturing the audience and it brings me a lot of joy to make other people happy," explains Lachance, who lives in Agassiz."It encourages me when they come and study the work.

"And the kids love it"

He has been building scale cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and other items from wood since he was a young boy. He says he used to watch his grandfather build furniture and quickly discovered his own aptitude for wood working when he was 12. His passion for automobiles, and his father's profession as a stunt driver, served him as inspiration.

Working on and off over a 30-year period, Lachance has built about 14,000 vehicles from oak, alder, black walnut and other woods. A one-man assembly line, he has produced replica sports cars, vintage autos, Harleys, Indy racers, monster trucks...just about anything one can think of. He builds everything from scratch, gleaning his ideas from photographs, magazines or simply from his own imagination. "Limousines, Porsches...I build anything and everything you can think of," he says."No one does what I do at the scale and speed and with so much variety."

Depending upon the size and complexity of each project, Lachance says he can spend from one day to several months crafting a vehicle. He displays his finished work at car shows, bike shows, shopping malls and special events.

He says it was appropiate that the ship, which was not modelled on any specific vessel, should be on display in Harrison since he has been building it over several years here in the village.

"It's being christened at the beach."

His primary shop is in Cloverdale, but he also keeps a part-time shop in Agassiz.

Lachance says he has had no formal woodwork training, a fascinating point given the remarkable detail of his products. He does however teach his skills to others.

The father of four has also donated several of his items as Christmas toys, and he is currently planning a line of posters and calendars. He says he does not do it for the money because it can't motivate him the way the public does.

"I am showing people what I do, sharing my knowledge and experience of what I do best and passing it on. That is my main focus."

Pierre Lachance and his
wooden Indy car in front
of the Cloverdale Library.
The car is on display at
the library branch during the
Indy race in Vancouver.

Indy Car Visits Cloverdale
SURREY NOW (19-JUL-2003) Written by: Tom Zytaruk Photo by: Brian Howell

Celebrated Harrison woodworker Pierre J. Lachance is showing some of his handiwork at his old hometown library in Cloverdale from now into August.

Library visitors can see Lachance's Indy car, which was commissioned by Molson Vancouver Indy and displayed at BC Place during the race in 1996.

The car is made of oak and yellow cedar.

"The car itself took me three months to make," Lachance said. "It was made off photographs only, and it was requested by Market Molson at that time."

Lachance also makes motorcycles, cars, ships and assorted toys out of wood.

Hand Crafted
ADVANCE NEWS LANGLEY (date) Written by: ??? Photo by: Tony Landreville

Showing off his own unique brand of bike, Designer Craftsman Pierre J. Lachance held shop at a motorcycle show at Willowbrook Mall on the weekend.

Rocking Art...
SURREY NOW (date) Written by: Leah S. Briggs Photo by: ???

Cloverdale artist Pierre J. Lachance works on a "Rocking-Harley" which will be raffled off to raise money for charity. Tickets will be sold during Lachances art show from November 23 to 25 at Cloverdale Mall. The raffle will be held December 15, raising money for Sunny Hill Hospital and the children's wards at Surrey and Langley memorial hospitals.


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Only wood used to build his bikes By Mike Choutnard

For Pierre Lachance, making cars and other replica vehicles from wood is a true labour of love.
The Agassiz wood sculptor has been doing it for about 35 years, not so much as a way of earning his keep but more as an honour to competitors on the stunt driver circuit. It's in his roots, after all, as his father worked in the circuit. The creations often end up as gifts, with some going to places like the Sunny Hill Heatlh Centre for Children in Vancouver.
Recently, he had a display set up inside the Agassiz Library to show off a few of his pieces: two stretch limosines and a replica Molson Indy car.
"For 35 years I've been doing this," he says.
His big project right now is a version of the legendary Evel Knievel's Harley Davidson XR 70.
"It all comes apart like a big, huge model, like a real bike," he says. "The whole thing can be picked up in one piece....Everything locks into place."
The Knievel project is a real labour of love, as Lachance's dad did some work for the famed daredevil back in the 1970s. He is able to zero in on the details because of his intricate knowledge of his subjects, plus the odd pictures as a guide. The Knievel bike is based on the rider's model from 1972 to 1977.
"I'm building this thing strictly off photographs," he says.
Virtually all the pieces are made of wood, even the shocks and sprockets, and the replica gas tank that slides into place is solid oak. Lachance is approaching the end of the job, but he still needs to put in some finishing touches.
"I've got approximately 125 hours into it," he says.
*For more information see Lachance's website at www.communityplusinternational.com

Four wheeled exhibit

Agassiz woodcrafter Pierre LaChance has parked a few of his automotive creations at the public library until the end of the month. The exhibit of handcarved vehicles includes the artist’s ‘96 IndyCar and a stretch limousine he made when he was just a teenager.
LaChance says he is also putting the finishing touches on a highly detailed Harley Davidson motorcyle, which he is making for daredevil legend Evel Knievel.

Wood carver eye for detail
By James Baxter, Metrovalley News. March 15, 2005

Local wood carver Pierre Lachance is putting the final touches on an oak motorcycle he is building for legendary stunt driver Evel Knievel.
The bike, a faithful replica of Mr. Knievel's gravity-defying Harley Davidson XR750, has been meticulously fashioned, piece-by-piece, over 100 hours, according to Mr. Lachance, who has also carved himself a repution as a leader in wooden automotive crafts. He began work on the Knievel bike last year as a trade for the stuntman's endorsment of Mr. Lachance's website, which is dedicated to the auto thrill show business.
The carver's father was a friend and employee of Mr. Knievel's.
"Also, I am doing it for the honour I have for Evel Knievel and the past [when] my dad worked for him," he said. "I feel I am carrying the torch in the auto thrill show business. The old man was a racing car driver and stunt driver, and - I was the model maker and the trophy maker for the drivers."
Mr. Lachance says he is also set to display a few of his nearly 14,000 pieces at the local library. The featured item will be a Molson Indy car he carved in 1995 in connection with the Vancouver race. It will be joined, he says, by "what I can fit in the case."
Mr. Lachance works from a small shop in Agassiz, where several of his replica cars, trucks and motorcylces rest bumper to wheel on counter space around his work table. He says he has been carving for nearly 35 years, a hobby he developed when he was sidelined by an injury at age 10.
"I learned a lot from my grandpa as far as woodworking," he explains. "he was a furniture maker and also did small renovations. By the age of- 13 or 14 I had a whole bunch of models, all wood, [and] then I got into more technical stuff- precision autos like Porsches, Bentleys, Jaguars and 4x4s.



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