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91-year-old father and son reconnect by turning replicas of homes into little libraries


When his now 91-year-old father first moved here a few years ago, Ray Young wanted to make the most of their time together.

“I hadn’t lived in the same city with my father for over 30 years,” Ray says.

Ray had no experience with woodworking, but his dad Ding Young did. So they decided to try to build something together.

“It was more important that we spend time together,” Ray says.

So Ding started visiting his son six mornings a week, between 9 a.m. and noon. They ended up making a flowerpot, which felt good.

“After that, we just kept going and going,” Ray smiles.

The father and son have taught themselves to construct multiple items from up-cycled wood pallets, and formed a company out of Ray’s garage called I Used To Be A Pallet. Their list of more than 600 projects ranges from bicycle baskets, to Christmas tree-shaped beer bottle holders, to staircases for dogs to climb into beds.

“He get an idea. Then I get an idea,” Ding smiles. “We put it together. It turns out pretty good.”

But then, Ray and Ding got a commission to make one of those community library boxes, so neighbours could exchange books.

Ray and Ding at work. “I thought that was great challenge,” Ray says.

A challenge that Ray and Ding relished in rising to. They started making little libraries that looked exactly like the houses behind them, except for the sign encouraging you to pull the door gently and pick a book to read voraciously.

“I think it’s an amazing replica,” says Astrid, who’s stopped at Ray and Ding’s 20th library that’s re-created the intricate brick work and elaborate moulding of the more-than-a-century-old home. “This makes our neighbourhood more interesting.”

The dynamic duo spends months constructing the little libraries, after studying multiple photographs of the houses. They range from traditional Tudor to modern minimalist. Ray focuses on crafting the architectural details, while Ding paints and sands each piece.

“I’m 91 years old,” Ding smiles. “As long as I keep working, I’m happy.”

Like happy memories turn houses into homes, like good writing keeps you engaged in a book until the last page, making little libraries ensure this father and son stay connected and creative.

“It’s great that we get to spend time together,” Ray says. “But we also do something productive and that’s meaningful for both of us.” Top Stories

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