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Ontario man entertained festival crowds with woodenshoe craft

Highly appreciated ‘retirement’ pastime

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

PETERBOROUGH, Ontario – He received his masters of aeronautical engineering in Delft but many people will remember Jack van Winssen (1926-May 2012) as Jack the Klompenmaker, in his retirement years entertaining crowds at Ontario regional events, the Canadian Tulip Festival, and beyond in places from New York to Oregon and Washington State.

After arriving in Canada in 1952, he and his wife Terry and family settled in Peterborough in 1960, where Jack van Winssen worked at GE until his retirement. He was not one to retire and turned his woodworking interests into an excellent Old Dutch craft initiative which involved showing this heritage trade to many onlookers.

With sets of tools scrounged together by an acquaintance at flea markets in the Netherlands, Jack offered his craft pupils tools along with the know-how, which then was recorded by a video camera.

Earlier, he was very involved with many activities at his George Street United Church as well as Boy Scouts, Meals on Wheels, building the Miniature Village, and as a senior handyman. Additionally, it is difficult to tell the proper order, the Van Winssens were also a big part of the local Dutch Canadian community. This included Jack’s role as a cofounder of the Dutch Credit Union, one of the many in Ontario.

He is survived by his wife Tjerkje “Terry“, their children and grandchildren along with family in the Netherlands. Van Winssen was born in 1926.