Search of family heirlooms reveals Penticton craftsman, history | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Search of family heirlooms reveals Penticton craftsman, history

René Mehrer took to social media to discover the surprising origins of two tables purchased by her mother years ago.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / René Mehrer
November 15, 2020 - 7:00 AM

René Mehrer recently solved a family 'history mystery' with the help of social media.

Her story involves two tables her mom picked up when René was 10 years old.

"They were always around our house, these intricately laid, carved beautiful tables that we didn’t know anything about,” she says.

Recently, her mom and dad passed away, and Mehrer came back to Naramata to look after the estate.

The two tables came up when a friend came over one day, picked one of the tables up and turned it over.

That’s when René discovered writings on the bottom, including a name – Harry Amundsen.

"I did a little research, then decided to post them on Facebook, because there was a Penticton address on the bottom. I was shocked by the response,” she says.

Social media comments flooded back, following the Nov. 7 posting, offering admiring comments about the tables themselves, as well as some history about the table’s craftsman.

The tables show some fine craftsmanship and intricate carving.
The tables show some fine craftsmanship and intricate carving.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / René Mehrer

“I always thought they came from Europe, so when I saw they were actually from Penticton, they were even more interesting. I’d never seen anything like them before, and was totally surprised to find there are examples of Amundsen's work in the Penticton Museum,” Mehrer says.

“Harry Amundsen was born in Norway. He came up to Canada from the United States and worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He got a job on the railway and was posted up at Arawana station above Naramata,” she says.

Amundsen worked as section master and apparently carved at Arawana. He set up a big display there where people could go and check out his work.

Amundsen eventually moved to Penticton where he died in 1973.

Mehrer believes her mother probably picked up the pieces at a garage sale.

“She liked interesting, strange things. I’d always been interested in the tables and put them aside, thinking one day I’d like to find out more about them, so now I do, and it’s pretty cool,” Mehrer says.

Mehrer comes by her historical interest in furniture honestly. She operates Fourth Meridian Auctions in the Cannery Trade Centre in Penticton where she says she comes across many interesting things people have had in their families.

“Just to figure out where they came from and who made them is amazing,” she says.

Craftsman Harry Amundsen was also section head of the Kettle Valley Railway at Arawana station above Naramata.
Craftsman Harry Amundsen was also section head of the Kettle Valley Railway at Arawana station above Naramata.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / René Mehrer

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to tips@infonews.ca and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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