Pat Kelley sits on his front porch and works on one of his walking sticks. Sarah Gawdin/Hope Standard

Known as the ‘Stick Man,’ local uses hobby to put smiles on faces of trail-goers

Pat Kelley hides one-of-a-kind walking sticks along local trails as happy surprises for hikers

Pat Kelley doesn’t do what he does for glory or recognition, but to bring smiles to the faces of the people who visit Hope’s great outdoors.

Now known locally as the Stick Man, Kelley—a life-long Hope resident—has been leaving one-of-a-kind walking sticks along Hope’s trails for people to find for a few years now.

“It started (as a hobby) about 10 years ago,” explained Kelley, while sitting in his dining room. “I was an electrician. I always had a knife in my hand peeling wires and such, so it feels comfortable.”

Admittedly, the first stick Kelley made was for himself, but after that, he says he branched out to family and friends.

“And over the years, they got a bit more fancy,” he added. But he also managed to perfect his method during that time, whittling his time to about 45 minutes per stick.

Using a utility knife, Kelley cuts down a five- or 10-year-old sapling, and then scores and strips its bark to create designs or words. And after experimenting with a few different woods since he began carving, Kelley says he now exclusively uses broadleaf maple saplings for his walking sticks.

“The bark peels really easily—like a banana!—and dries hard relatively fast in a few days.”

Always a creative individual, Kelley says the initial positive his sticks received encouraged him to try and sell them as an artisan vendor in a local shop, however, that began feeling like work, which is exactly what Kelley didn’t want for his hobby.

“So I decided to give them away and get paid in Thank-Yous and smiles,” he said, smiling himself. “And since I retired, I’ve been leaving (sticks) on the trails more and more.

“I’ve gotten good reviews from people who’ve found them. It makes you feel good, and if it makes you feel good, you do it some more, right?” he asked with a laugh.

Since he began carving, Kelley estimates he’s made 100, but this is the first year he’s decided to count and he’s already at 30. And while there are locals who sport Kelley’s walking sticks, he says he guesses the majority of the sticks have been found by tourists, so they’re now outside of the community.

Kelley doesn’t just leave his walking sticks on the trails, he typically creates them there, too. “I usually do it as I’m walking, but the more detailed work I need to stop and concentrate on.

“And (that’s when) it’s a real conversation starter,” Kelley said. “I joke and call it ‘Talking to Tourists.’ But it makes their experience in Hope a bit better, I hope.

“But really, the expression on people’s faces—the genuine happiness—(when they find, or I give them one of my sticks), you can tell you’ve made somebody’s day. It’s little things like that (that’s) the best feeling.”


 

@SarahGawdin on Twitter
SarahGawdin on Instagram
Sarah.Gawdin@HopeStandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

With utility knife in hand, Pat Kelley scores and strips the bark from a broadleaf maple sapling that will eventually become a walking stick hidden along a local trail for somebody to happen upon. Sarah Gawdin/Hope Standard

Just Posted

Fraser-Cascade school district hosts by-election to fill void left by passing of Tom Hendrickson

Advance voting begins on July 17, with general voting on July 27

Okan brings Cuban rhythm to Harrison Festival of the Arts

The Cuban band from Toronto will be performing a concert and holding a workshop

Sts’ailes drum making coming to Harrison Festival

The workshop has been happening for years, bringing Indigenous teachings to the festival

Transparency, dialogue key to UBC Dairy’s open house

The annual Agassiz event invites the public to come learn about dairy farming and research around it

Chilliwack lagging real estate sales mirrors provincial trend

Forecast for 2019 is a drop from 2018 but a bounce back predicted for 2020

VIDEO: Agassiz remembers local officer at grave-marking ceremony

Montague White-Fraser had been buried in the Old Cemetery for 92 years without a headstone

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

B.C. Ferries cancels two sailings Monday due to mechanical issues

Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay run affected in order to repair Queen of New Westminster

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

Most Read