Thomas Chambers (1860-1948) Wallaceburg, Ontario
Thomas Chambers led a quiet and solitary life and spent his early years as a market hunter in the Toronto Harbor. He was associated with St. Anne's Club at Lake St. Clair in the early 1880's, but when the club burned to the ground, he sought a position at the St. Clair Flats Shooting Co. Chambers stayed on there as manager and carver for forty years (Fleming 141).
Chambers was friends with George Warin, John R. Wells and David Ward, but he still managed to set himself apart by the delicate shape of the head and beak and numerous head positions. His decoys are either solid or hollow, but all of them have an extended lower neck for a head seat. Early decoys have rounded heads and extensive bill carving. Later ones have flatter heads, little detailed carving and a smaller overall construction. With these decoys, Chambers had to forego a more elegant look to accommodate the needs of a hunter. Colors are muted with feather combing on the backs and the wings. The dull red and grey Chambers blended and scratch painted afford a very life-like decoy. He marked some of his pieces "Thos. Chambers Maker" and sold them for $75 a dozen (Haid 15). Chambers' decoys are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. He created a wide variety of these fine decoys replicating black ducks, bluebills, Canada geese, canvasbacks, mallards, pintails, redheads and a few teal and wood ducks. Thomas Chambers retired in 1943, but the collecting surge near the time of his death reassures him continued fame (Fleming 141).