'Keeps the mind active': How a 93-year-old World War II veteran found a new passion for design
A 93-year-old World War II veteran is the talk of his retirement home because of his talent for creating.
About five years ago, Bert Masson starting turning old cardboard boxes into intricate model buildings and ships.
“It was something to do, really. A pastime,” Masson said.
Among his creations are the Saskatchewan Legislature, the Eiffel Tower, a replica of Queen Victoria Estates where he lives, and a model of the ship he sailed during his time in the Navy called the SS Queens Park.
Bert Masson's model of Queen Victoria Estates. (Stefanie Davis / CTV News)
Each large design takes him about two months to build, sometimes working for full days at a time.
“First I’ve got to gather up some cardboard boxes and try to get reasonably big ones so you can get a clear piece of out them,” he explained. “Then you just go ahead and cut it up into whatever shapes you need and glue them together.”
He uses plaster to help bend the cardboard into the required shapes.
“It’s pretty hard to bend cardboard. You can bend it one way, but the other way is pretty hard to bend and make a curve,” he said. “I use a little bit of plaster to make it round.”
The first design he created was a small castle that came from his imagination. Each build got bigger and more intricate from there.
His final and biggest piece is the Eiffel Tower, which was made out of wood instead of cardboard. It even has a moving elevator inside.
Vivian Sawyer, a housekeeper at Queen Victoria Estates for 22 years, has watched Masson build some of his creations from the ground up.
“He’s got a lot of patience to do that,” she said. “It’s a nice pastime for him. It gives him something to do other than sitting in the room. I think a lot of seniors should find something like this to do. It keeps the mind active.”
She said other residents at Queen Victoria Estates are fascinated about the replicas and their intricate detail.
The replica builds aren’t Masson’s first time creating. He said he used to work on construction projects in his younger days. He also built his own house.
SS QUEENS PARK
One of Masson’s favourite creations is his replica of the SS Queens Park.
“I joined her around June 10, 1943,” he said. After some trial runs of the ship, he sailed on it until 1947. He was 15-years-old when he joined.
“I was in Sydney, Australia when the Japanese surrendered,” he explained.
He said the camaraderie on board the ship is something that he’s always remembered, and might be why he wanted to recreate it.
“You were always with some other men,” he explained. “You lived with them on the ship and you had to get along with everybody else or that’s a long way to swim.”
Years ago, he also built a 13.5 foot-long version of the Queens Park out of metal, complete with a remote control so he could put it in water.
Bert Masson's SS Queens Park replica (Stefanie Davis / CTV News)
He said many museums had been interested in it, but told him it was too big for their displays.
“It was always too big or too long,” he explained. “I thought if I build a small one, when I go, maybe somebody at those museums will get it.”
A FAMILY PROJECT
Although Masson is in charge of his builds, he seeks ideas and help from his family.
He said it’s a way to connect with his kids.
“It was my daughter who said, It would be good to build the [Saskatchewan] Legislative Building in cardboard,’” he said. “So, I did.”
His Eiffel Tower, made of wood, is his second favourite because of the time he spent with his son working on it.
“My son, him and I got some pine wood and we sawed that up on the table saw, all those little ribs,” he said. “He kind of ran the table saw and he helped me quite a bit on that one.”
For the replica of his own building, Queen Victoria Estates, he had to brave Saskatchewan winter temperatures to go outside and check the building to make sure he didn’t miss any details.
“It was pretty hard,” he said. “It was pretty cold out to go and look and see wherever anyone had a balcony or whatever else.”
Masson said he thinks he’s finished with the large creations as he’s running out of space in his suite. He’ll continue creating stained glass, which he sells at the craft sales held at Queen Victoria Estates.
As for the future for his models, he said he doesn’t expect them to go too far.
“I was thinking one day, ‘What am I going to do with all these things? Just stomp on them and crush them?’” Masson said with a laugh.
“That’s about all you can do with things of cardboard. Nobody wants them. So I just think about crushing them, after all that work."
Regina Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Patrick Brown is alleging political corruption played a role in his disqualification from the Conservative Party of Canada's leadership race, a move that came following allegations that his campaign violated election financing rules.
Despite being disqualified by the Conservative Party of Canada from becoming its next leader, ousted candidate Patrick Brown's name will still appear on the ballot.
Video has emerged showing a worker dangling in the air above a Toronto construction site after accidently getting entangled in a tagline attached to a crane.
Air Canada and Toronto's Pearson airport again claimed the top spots for flight delays on Tuesday, marking at least four days in a row where the country's biggest airline has placed No. 1 of any large carrier worldwide.
Air Canada said on Wednesday it will not allow animals in the baggage hold until Sept. 12 due to 'longer than usual' delays at airports, as carriers and airports wrestle with complaints over lost luggage and long lines.
As gas prices slightly trend down this week after some of the highest national averages seen in recent months, some Canadians may be thinking twice before planning their usual summer road trip plans. CTVNews.ca looks at how drivers can save at the pumps while travelling.
Prices have been easing slightly recently, but affording a mortgage is still a very difficult task for many Canadians. How much of a mortgage can you afford? Contributor Christopher Liew breaks it down in an exclusive column for CTVNews.ca.
Canada's immigration department is restarting all Express Entry draws for immigration applications Wednesday, after pausing the program 18 months ago during the pandemic.
A federal judge Wednesday sentenced Jerry Harris, a former star of the Netflix documentary series 'Cheer,' to 12 years in prison for coercing teenage boys to send him obscene photos and videos of themselves and soliciting sex from minors at cheerleading competitions.
A crash involving a fire hydrant was the first in a chain of events that led to a chaotic scene in a Saskatoon intersection.
Starting Thursday, riders looking to take Access Transit to get to their destinations will notice a shift in service over the next three weeks.
Two Ukrainian refugees, a brother and sister, are settling into their new home in Saskatoon.
A political breakup at Winnipeg City Hall is creating intrigue in a council race.
A community organization is proposing a network of cameras in an effort to bolster safety throughout the area.
Residents in a southern Manitoba town are asking questions as to why they are facing a summer with no emergency room.
Ward 2 councillor Jennifer Wyness asked council to consider referring veteran colleague Gian-Carlo Carra's disclosure investigation findings to both the minister and police for further review.
Calgary drivers might be asking why the price of gasoline is more expensive in their energy rich province where oil is refined and extracted than in Ontario, but one retail expert claims to have the answer.
City officials have announced two more downtown buildings that will see vacant office space repurposed into residential housing.
Emergency crews were called to a Mill Woods school on Wednesday after a security guard reportedly experienced irritation on their hands after finding a white powder.
Wade Stene, who admitted to kidnapping and sexually assaulting an eight-year-old Edmonton girl, was sentenced to 15.5 years behind bars Wednesday afternoon.
The City of Edmonton is moving ahead on a new bylaw aimed at reducing the number of single-use items, like plastic cutlery and bags, that end up in city landfills and on city streets.
'I cannot get any rest': Residents complain of sleepless nights after alleged nightclub opens up under condo
Residents living in Toronto’s west end say they have been left utterly exhausted after an alleged nightclub opened up at the base of their condominium.
Ontario has likely entered a new wave of the pandemic driven by the more infectious BA.5 subvariant, the province’s science advisory table says.
A mother from Nova Scotia is speaking out about her recent travel experience through Toronto Pearson Airport after a WestJet flight delay left her and her daughters sleeping on a nursing room floor.
An Ottawa senior citizen says he lost his life savings after investing with a real estate development firm that has been charged with fraud.
Ottawa police are on the scene of a shooting that injured one person in the city's west end.
The penultimate day of the public hearings into Ottawa’s light rail transit system saw some sharp words from the train manufacturer.
The large logs that have lined the water’s edge at many Vancouver beaches have been a favourite lounging spot for sun worshipers for over 50 years.
Health professionals are hoping the rollout of the pending COVID-19 vaccine for children under five will have better uptake than the one approved for children aged five to 11.
Homicide investigators have shared the identity of the man killed in a brazen afternoon shooting in a hotel parking lot in Surrey Monday afternoon.
WATCH LIVE @ 9 A.M.
WATCH LIVE @ 9 A.M. | With another COVID climb, Quebec health minister calls news conference for Thursday morning
With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise in Quebec, public health officials have called a news conference for Thursday morning.
'Not a time when Quebec can afford to lose young doctors,' province's opposition leader says of ER exodus
The leader of Quebec's Liberal Party paused her vacation briefly on Wednesday to react to the news that two young emergency room doctors have quit their jobs in their hometown of Montreal to work in Toronto.
The Montreal Alouettes have fired their head coach and their defensive co-ordinator, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators say a man was lying in the roadway when he was struck and killed by a vehicle near Courtenay, B.C., on Wednesday.
The driver of a logging truck was airlifted to hospital in Victoria after he was pinned inside the vehicle following a rollover crash on Wednesday morning.
Questions of what would motivate twin brothers to enter a British Columbia bank dressed in body armour and prepared for a gun battle remain unanswered, but a criminologist sees similarities to two other young men who terrified Canadians in 2019.
A person has been taken to hospital with serious injuries following a shooting in Halifax Wednesday night.
The ex-boyfriend of Cassidy Bernard has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter and a consecutive three years for child abandonment in connection with the young mother's death.
Families of victims of the Nova Scotia mass shooting are considering whether to continue participating in the public inquiry into the tragedy because key witnesses are being shielded from cross-examination.
Weengushk International Film Festival returns to in-person events this coming weekend. The festival will highlight stories and voices of Indigenous women.
Many post-secondary institutions are vulnerable to cyber attacks, according to CyberCatch, a firm tasked with getting small- to medium-sized organizations up to date with Canada's new standard for cybersecurity.
Bavarian Meat Products in North Bay has been closed since fall of 2021. While the business has closed, flies are thriving and the odour of rotten meat gets worse.
Break-ins targeting restaurants, salons, dress shops and cannabis stores have been reported in Kitchener, Waterloo and Woolwich.
'There’s no great answer': Low-income tenants weigh options in Cambridge as renovations push them out
Tenants of the Tiger Lofts, an affordable apartment building in Cambridge, say they’re being “renovicted” and won’t be allowed to stay after extensive renovations.
Police are looking for a man who allegedly grabbed and sexually assaulted a woman in a Kitchener park.