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Ready. Aim. Fire! Heavy artillery in Karl Cole’s front yard not what it seems to be

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George Mathewson

An outsized lawn decoration on Maria Street has been turning curious heads lately.

In the yard of the brick home at the intersection of College stands a field cannon, complete with a pile of cannonballs and a Union Jack flag.

“People come along and they always stop and look at it,” said owner Karl Cole.

Karl Cole
Karl Cole

“One guy down the street stopped and said, ‘Well, I feel a lot safer now.’”

What appears to be an authentic relic from the U.S. Civil War is not actually a functioning piece of field artillery. It’s a replica Cole designed and built from scrounged materials and other odds and ends.

The gun barrel, for example, is not cast iron but a wooden post he turned on a lathe. The wheels came from a farm wagon and the stacked munitions were once croquet balls.

Cole said he built and rebuilt the sculpture several time, and after 10 years it was finally done to his satisfaction last summer.

“I get a vision in my head and then I go ahead and make something.” he explained. “Once I have the vision, things always seem to fall into place.”

Over the years, the 81-year-old hobbyist has been a fisherman, a miner and a mechanic, and he once owned and ran Coles Auto Sales in Sarnia.

So what’s next?

Cole said another vision has come to him, this one of a large, majestic horse rearing up on its hind legs.

He intends to construct the horse out of rebar, the steel rods used in reinforced concrete.

“I’ve made a lot of different things,” he said.





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