Biography of Leo Fritz

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I came into this world in the later part of May 1939 at my Great Grandmother Heisler’s home in Allan, Sask., where she was the Midwife for the community. This was also the day that the Queen came through Allan on a special car built for the CNR, allegedly she gave a brief smile and a little wave as the train went through the small town. I don’t recall seeing any of that.

I was born into a large Family that lived on a small farm, so some of us had to move on. My farming days came to an end in 1958 when I came to the big city of Saskatoon and entered the Industrial World as a construction worker. That fall I entered into an apprenticeship contract with Little-Borland Construction to become a Carpenter. Another life altering event that happened to me in 1958 was that I meet this interesting little school teacher that had come from the Melfort/Tisdale area to teach in one of the small country schools in the Allan district. We got married in October of 1959. During the following years I completed my apprenticeship and obtained my Interprovincial Journeyman’s Certificate as a Carpenter, and eventually became a job supervisor with Little -Borland. My last construction project as a Jobsite Supervisor, was the Chatelaine Magazine Show Home that was built at 507 Preston Ave. in Saskatoon in the year 1965.

In the fall of 1965 my interest in Unions led to a full time job with the Carpenters Local Union in Saskatoon, and a little over a year later I became a representative for the General President of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America, and worked on assignments from our office in Washington, DC. My work area was primarily in western Canada with many staff meetings and conventions in the USA, a lot of travelling and many nights away from my home and Family. At the end of September in 1995 I was entitled to full pension with the UBC and made the decision to retire. For some time before my retirement I had often harbored thoughts of what I might do in retirement. Then one day as I was driving home from Regina, CBC radio was doing an interview with a world famous Woodturner by the name of Mike Hosaluk. A few days after that I spoke with Mike on the telephone which resulted in the seed for my retirement being planted. I bought my first lathe from Bob Holowaty at Wood-N-Works on second Ave in the later part of 1993 and took my first wood turning class at Wood-N-Works that following spring from Mike Hosaluk.

Over the years I have attended several Woodturning Symposiums in Prince Albert and a couple in Saskatoon, along with a number of weekend workshops and Demo’s. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting and getting to know many great and knowledgeable Woodturners over the years.  Some of them being the late Alfred Wilson & Frank Sudol, along with current day Turners like Doug Corrigal, Rod Peterson, Mike Hosaluk, Phil Ochosky, Ab Odnokon & Trent Watts. I also found that I was taking a liking to Segmented Turning and developed a number of techniques to accomplish certain skills in that regard, and of course I had to upgrade my shop equipment to be able to do the precise cutting & shaping of the segments. The one nice thing about segmented turning is that you are always working with dry wood, which results in little or no shrinkage and movement. However, a major downside is the increasing prices of the exotic & imported hardwoods.

My Wife Rosamond & I have a Family of five, four Boys and one Girl, along with six Grandchildern & one Great Grandchild as of a year ago. The Boys all completed apprenticeships in the Trades and have their Journeyman’s Certification. One is an Electrician, another a Machinist, another is a Farm Machinery Mechanic and the youngest is a Sheet Metal Worker. Our Daugther is the Team Leader at the Information Services Corporation office on 8th Street.  Rosamond & I continue to live in our House that I built back in 1965. Lately I have said on occasion that I might consider living in a Condo if I can take my Shop with me.  In 1986 we bought some property in the Echo Development on Big Shell Lake, and built a Cabin there which we enjoy using. In the past several years we also built a double car garage to house all of our Lake Toys.

Another time consuming hobby that I have gotten into in the past few years is Family Genealogy. I find this very interesting and am fascinated with the relevant events and history. My ancestry is Germans from Russia. I am a current member of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society. In recent years I have found church records of my Family in the Saratov Archives in Russia. It is my hope to some day put all this into book form and have it printed.

So far life has been reasonably good and I hope the Good Lord will grant me a few more years to continue enjoying life and furthering my knowledge in my favourite hobby of making round things out of wood, or perhaps better known as Woodturning.

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