The biplane is the first thing you see on the roof of Robert Krebs’ Gateway home.
Or maybe it’s the Gateway Express pulling into the miniature station. Or the fancy stagecoach that’s stopped in the dusty western town.
The colourful rooftop display, dubbed the “Gateway Goober characters,” often stops passersby in their tracks outside Krebs’ home on Canim-Hendrix Lake Road.
“We live in a negative world so I thought why not just do something positive?” Krebs, 72, said.
Krebs said it was a combination of time on his hands and an overactive imagination that led him to create the scene just over a year ago. A carpenter by trade, he was forced to retire three years ago when he tore his rotator cuff in a construction accident.
When an image came to him of a colourful biplane, he decided to head to his shop and build it. When he installed it on the roof of his house, it got immediate attention from people driving past. That got him thinking about what else he could add to the display.
“The mind is always changing what I’m going to build next,” Krebs said. “(I’ve got a) wild, overactive imagination.”
The Gateway Express, a model wooden train with a small station, was the next installation after the biplane. This led to even more people slowing down or stopping near his home to take some pictures, further fueling his ambitions.
The latest addition to the character display is a series of metal sculptures depicting a frontierswoman, covered wagon, and a cowboy and his trusty steed.
Krebs said the 108 Building Supply donated the scrap metal for the western town on his rooftop, which was a big help. They also sold him a 10-foot-long metal cutter for only $500.
Perched on his porch, meanwhile, is Bert the Bear, ready to welcome visitors to the home.
Krebs said he has plans to expand the wild west theme with a model saloon and hotel in his yard. His wife isn’t the biggest fan of that idea but Krebs reasons that people seem to like the display and it’s good for the neighbourhood. Another future addition will be a Model-T style car he’s planning to mock up using old bicycle tires for the wheels.
“The sky’s the limit, right? I hope folks enjoy it, that’s the main thing. We’re in a sticky situation with this COVID-19 thing so if people drive by here and get some enjoyment out of them, well, my job’s done.”
Krebs said he is considering starting a business making models and sculptures, under the name Gateway Goober Characters, for those who would like them in their yard. Anyone interested in chatting with him can reach him at 604-741-1466.