There are only 10 professional bowmakers in Canada, and Roy Quade, 53, is the only such artisan in this province, working out of his neatly organized basement workshop.
|Larry MacDougal, Business Edge|
|Roy G. Quade|
Formerly a supervisor in the data-processing centre of the City of Calgary, Quade turned to bowmaking full time in 1990. Today he spends, on average, a week-and-a-half crafting and selling each bow (the kind used on stringed instruments). His creations sell for roughly $5,000 apiece.
A large part of that sticker price goes toward expenses such as specialty high-grade woods (like pernambuco, a wood that may soon find itself on the endangered list, and ebony), horse hair and gold.
Quade also travels frequently to market his handiwork.
He attributes much of his success to his mathematical acumen (his university training) and his love of artisanship. He also says that “all the science a bowmaker needs is taught in high-school physics.”
Bowmakers, in a way, have to be the engineers and the construction crew wrapped into one.
Quade says his unusual high school experiences also prepared him well for his trade. His high school in Regina offered excellent workshops that piqued his
interest. So he cut a deal with his teachers that as long as his marks stayed above 80 per cent in academic subjects, he could work in the shops as much as he wanted.
About half of Quade’s customers are promising young musicians seeking their first high-quality bow. The rest are professional musicians, such as the cellist in the Los Angeles Philharmonic or the day-player for the Cincinnati Symphony.
Quade’s bows, they believe, will give them an edge in auditions.
* Year Founded: 1987
* Address: 623 25th Ave. N.E., Calgary
* Phone: (403) 277-9373