Sicamous stone mason carves local niche

Monument maker/restorer earns respect with restoration of local cenotaph.

Kirk Birdsey stands next to the Sicamous cenotaph

Stone mason Kirk Birdsey is building a business foundation in Sicamous.

Birdsey recently started up Reflections in Stone. He designs and builds monuments, largely for cemeteries. He also does monument markers for deceased pets, custom landscape rock, rock signs and “pretty much anything made with granite.” He also specializes in monument restoration work.

Residents may have recently seen Birdsey at the Sicamous Legion cenotaph, where he was applying his trade to restore the community monument. He said the painstaking work took about a week, and involved, among other things, redoing the lettering of some 300 words etched in the stone.

“On the parking lot side you couldn’t even read it, there was no paint in the letters at all – how do you get the paint in the letters without spraying it all over the stone? You have to know what you’re doing,” said Birdsey.

The restoration work also included bringing out the etchings and fixing up the base.

All of this was done pro bono by Birdsey.

Legion president Chris Wilson said Birdsey did a beautiful job, noting a lot of people stopped by the monument as Birdsey was working and thanked him.

“He did a brilliant job, he’s got a real eye for detail for sure,” said Wilson, adding Birdsey would be doing similar work with the Malakwa cenotaph, and may be providing additional monument pieces for the Sicamous cenotaph to honour both emergency responders and those who have served their country in one capacity or another in recent years.

Birdsey says he grew up in a “monument family” in Ontario, where he picked up the trade at an early age.

“You really can’t teach people how to do this trade,” said Birdsey. “You either grew up in it or you have no idea. People can have the general gist of it, but from start to finish it’s quite an elaborate experience.”

Birdsey noted he is also a drummer and teaches drumming on the side.

Asked what brought Birdsey to Sicamous, the story begins back in 1988, when a mishap with the band he was touring with led him to stay a while.

“I came here with a band in ’88 – I don’t even remember the band… but they lost my drums on the train, so I was forced to hang around Sicamous,” said Birdsey. “Then I met a girl and ended up living here for five years. And then I went back to Ontario and my dad got sick and my parents have passed away since then.

“So I’ve always had Sicamous close to heart; I’ve always come back here for vacation.”

While granite may be hard and long lasting, Birdsey emphasized how there’s no room for error and no shortcuts when making a monument. Even when it comes to polishing the stone.

“The polish is in the stone, you have to bring it out,” said Birdsey. “So many people I’ve met think you just lacquer it… that’s not the truth. You need diamond and water and lots of patience.”

For more information, Birdsey can be reached at 1-250-253-3772.