Geoff Dilley

Each of Geoff Dilley’s memory boxes has a unique inlay design, crafted with the types of wood once used to make propellers for World War I aircraft.

November 22, 2022 | | Over the Next Hill

Snapshot: Meet a Community Elder

Like so many of us during the pandemic lockdowns, Geoff Dilley was casting about for something to fill his time. And he found it. The retired finish carpenter crafted a “memory box” — and then made 129 more.

Many of those boxes, which each have a different inlay design on the lid and measure 12 by 6 by 4 inches, will be for sale this December at the Holiday Treasures show at the Museum of Dufferin. They are variously crafted from oak, maple, Brazilian mahogany and sapele mahogany, all woods used to make the propellers of World War I aircraft.

Each of Geoff Dilley’s memory boxes has a unique inlay lid, crafted with the types of wood once used to make propellers for World War I aircraft. Photography by Rosemary Hasner.

Geoff’s connection with vintage propellers came about through his volunteer work at the Great War Flying Museum near Cheltenham. There, with funding help from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, he rebuilt the museum’s artifact section, and he completed a hangar extension with the aid of funds from the Town of Caledon’s annual golf tournament.

Geoff originally studied carpentry and joinery in England, where he also met Anita, a Toronto teacher, at the wedding of a mutual friend in his hometown of Bristol. With a romantic spark ignited, he soon immigrated to Canada. The couple, proud parents of three grown children, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Geoff started his career in Canada building custom kitchens, and you can detect a tiny scoff in his voice when he talks about today’s component kitchens. “In the early 1970s, I created each cupboard from scratch, beginning with sheets of veneer plywood, and often adding custom-laminated countertops,” he says. Eventually he started his own business, “building decks, bump outs and second storeys in and around the Caledon area.”

Now 75, Geoff says, “I’m thankful to Canada and particularly to Caledon for the opportunity to earn a good living during my active business life, and I’m happy, too, that I have found opportunities to give back.”

And give back he has. In addition to his recent work for the flying museum, he put his skills to use as a longtime volunteer with the Palgrave Rotary Club, where he undertook many projects, including building the gazebo in Palgrave’s Stationlands Park and revamping spaces at the Palgrave Park baseball diamond. His contributions were recognized when he was named a Paul Harris Fellow, one of Rotary International’s highest honours.

About the Author More by Gail Grant

Gail Grant is a freelance writer who lives in Palgrave.

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