Tag Archives: Magazine



(To view our March/April 2019 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin

The chances are slim, but there may be a possibility John Hall and I are twins separated at birth.

No, not literally, but we sure think alike.

Having had the opportunity to speak with John many times over the years, I always learn something new and I listen keenly for his little anecdotes tucked into the fabric of his stories. That truly is the good stuff.

Creativity, focus, customer first, branding and, above all, providing a quality product to back up all those areas of strategic planning – in reading this edition of ClubWest Magazine’s lead feature you will gain some insight into how John did this.

In some small way, I would like to think I have followed this blueprint. It will be nine years in May in an industry with a 95 per cent mortality rate for start-ups in the first year and I have done that twice now, so I’ll take that.

While John does provide an excellent road map to success, a proven, tried and true formula to develop a great company with dedicated employees and a loyal customer base, few – if any – could aspire to the level of success he has managed to achieve.

Yes, he sold his company for an incredible sum, more than $185 million, but it was what he did for an entire world wide industry and Canada’s position on that stage which is staggering.

There is no need to rehash the content of the story but to say John and his team moved the needle for the Canadian whisky category would me a major understatement.

There are many thousands if not millions of successful businesses in the world, but few actually change mindsets, generate exponential growth and restore vibrancy to a dying sector.

That is the stuff of Hollywood scripts.

How many of you have seen the 40 Creek Distillery ads on during a Maple Leafs game?

Campari, as John notes, has done very well by Grimsby and their business by shining such a classy light on the legacy of their product line. Having a story to tell and exploiting that heritage are two key marketing points in promoting alcohol. Think of the story told of Appleton Rum, also a Campari product. Unique stories stick in the minds of consumers.

With 40 Creek, John’s efforts will be the story which drives the company for decades into the future and that is something for which he can be proud and the whole community can take pride in as well.

Few people get into any Hall of Fame, let alone have a Hall of Fame created just to accommodate them…yes, I embellish slightly, but John Hall deserves it!

Publisher, ClubWest Magazine
Mike Williscraft

Exquisite art of marquetry


(To view our January/February 2019 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

60 Years in the making

By Joanne McDonald

Scratch the veneer from John Sedgwick and you’ll find a man who loves wood.

His Grimsby home is a showcase of award-winning marquetry created on furniture that he has made, a testament to both the ancient art of exquisitely worked veneers and his skill and passion for the work.

His woodworking shop out back is a place of mindfulness where the world disappears in the focus of the wood. Lines of clamps hang from the shop walls with a precision that speaks to his profession as a mechanical engineer.

It appears there are clamps enough to lock down a fort, yet says Sedgwick, gleefully sharing the woodworkers’ universal lament, you can never have too many clamps.

“He who dies with the most clamps wins.”

In the corner sits the piece de resistance – a carousel – 20 years of intricate marquetry in the making and now just eight months short of completion. It is a masterpiece.

Constructed on a mechanically engineered rotating circular platform and expertly overlaid with artful figures and patterns made of gorgeous wood veneers, the carousel now awaits Sedgwick’s eight hand carved Roman soldiers driving horse-drawn chariots to complete the labour of love.

Researched and themed around the ancient Romans, Sedgwick started carving the horses and making the chariots two years ago. He is now working on the tack to drive the teams.

Marquetry is an intricate and labour-intensive technique where different natural colours of wood veneers are carefully cut to fit precisely together, creating a spectacular design in a single sheet or picture.

“Think of paint by numbers with no numbers and no paint, just naturally coloured wood fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle to create a design or pattern,” he says.

Sedgwick is a fine gentleman.

He speaks with the authority of decades dedicated to the art and his enthusiasm retains the delight of the youngster who received his first hobby veneer kit, a Christmas gift from his father when he was 12 years old.

He was born in England, the Village of Kent where everybody knew everybody and “everybody had a hobby that didn’t plug in.”

His father, Harold had the foresight to introduce his son to the fine art, but could hardly have known the enduring joy it would bring.

There was a company in the UK that sold veneers to the

furniture industry. Large sheets were custom supplied and the discarded bits would end up in a dumpster.

An industrious employee saw an opportunity to use the leftover pieces and he developed a kit with all the ingredients to complete a small craft project.

One of the popular hobbies at the time was paint by number kits.

The employee took the paint by number pattern and thought, “what if I cut the veneers and put numbers on them.”

He took small pieces of veneer, stamped numbers according the paint by numbers pattern and packaged them with a scalpel, a bit of sandpaper, and a few basic instructions to make the kits that are still sold to this day.

“The concept of the kit was to show that you can paint any design and any pattern with wood.”

By the age of 16, Sedgwick was fascinated by the process. He would ‘dumpster dive’ behind cabinet shops to glean small pieces of discarded veneer.

He studied and learned and began making his own

The focus on marquetry would go into hiatus for the next few years as Sedgwick, at the age of 18, went into the British Army and served for two years before emigrating to Canada.

He married his wife Maria and together they raised a family while Sedgwick worked on building his own manufacturing company designing automated equipment.

Eventually he found a few extra hours and returning to the fine art in 1982 he turned his focus to finding others who shared his passion. “I thought there must be more people
doing this.”

There was a founding society in the UK and France and as it was the days before the internet, he wrote to England and asked if there were any members in Canada and the US.

He received the names of eight people attached to the British society.

They lived far and wide from Kingston and Niagara through to Detroit and the US. He wrote each one a letter.

Four were actively doing marquetry, two were older cabinet makers by then in their late 70s and two were hobbyists. They formed the Marquetry Society of Canada in 1983.

“I had never met anyone elsr and wanted to see what others were doing,” Sedgwick said.

He started going to wood shows and meeting people with the shared passion and found the woodworkers’ mecca at Lee Valley Tools where he regularly teaches seminars at locations across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA.)

Students spend a day creating their own projects and learning techniques, some of which come from practices used by the Egyptians more than 3,000 years ago.

Much of Sedgwick’s work has involved repairs of marquetry, including music boxes dating from the 1880s.

Through the process and by necessity he has also honed skills in furniture making, furniture repair, wood carving and turning. And each time he moves on to a new project, of course, he needs more tools – a need to which every woodworker will attest.

His work has earned best of show and best of class awards at juried competitions in Canada, the United States and the U.K.

He has contributed to two books and written many articles. His work has graced the covers of two Lee Valley cataloguemagazines and a catalogue.  But always, Sedgwick says modestly, just when you think you’re great, you’re only good.

He finds others, highly skilled, who share his passion and he continues to learn.

Closer to home, Sedgwick was invited last month to exhibit a collection of his work at the Christmas meeting of the Grimsby Probus Club, a sagacious social group by definition, that meets strictly to enjoy the camaraderie of networking with old friends who share decades of professional and life experiences.

For more information about marquetry and photos of Sedgwick’s work visit:


From the Publisher November/December 2018


(To view our November/December 2018 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Like many Canadians, I have looked at the cancellation of the Avro Arrow program as one of the great mysteries in our nation’s still-young history.

I have read a lot about the company, the jet – the first and only supersonic interceptor built in Canada, developed to offset the threat of Soviet bombers which could attack North America by flying over the Arctic – and Diefenbaker’s decision.

The purely economic side makes sense. The government had no suitors. The U.S. would never buy Canadian, and why would they if the got all the theory and research for free (see the story) AND got all the benefits of the brain drain when the project and Avro died?

There is one outstanding query which overshadows any possible theory as to the Dief ’s motivation: Why the voracity?

Why would anyone who has spent millions upon millions – when $1 million was a mythological amount – not only kill a program but dissolve every bit of research, knowledge and understanding of that project?

Sure, cancel it to save money if you choose, but why would the actual five competed jets not simply be mothballed, plans and drawings archived, test results filed for future use if needed?

So you don’t want to spend good money after what was deemed bad….but how do you justify wasting every dime spent on the project by wiping the results of Canadian ingenuity from the face of the earth?

Simply, one can’t.

In a more philosophical look, take a look at the news around the world today. It seems pretty bleak and the horizon is not great. However, one thing Canadians have always had to prop us up has been our standing on the world stage. Canada, for many decades, has been kind of like a Switzerland with some clout.

The clout comes from being part of the G7. The standing comes from the ability of Canadian officials to be looked upon as though they are referees for the world, an arbitor at times.

So think about this: Dief steps on the gas, antes up a ton of money and puts the Arrow into full production for the Canadian Air Force. That would have made Canada a military power.

There would have been demand to send planes and soldiers into the world’s skirmishes.

Gone would be our “peacekeeper to the world” standing and we would have been much more aligned with the U.S.’s military might rep. That possibility is the only reason, even though I have never heard it mentioned, that could make sense for killing the Avro Arrow other than financial.

Publisher, ClubWest Magazine
Mike Williscraft