~n_Middleville - Minaker
Apprentice Hank Parcell builds a lead at the Perth campus. Students learn the fundamentals of masonry through hands-on training and theoretical classes giving them a well-rounded introduction to the trade

Algonquin’s Perth campus offers prospective students the opportunity to enter a career in historical and traditional masonry techniques. There are global opportunities for employment as well as a thriving local market says co-ordinator John Scott. Graduates have found employment in such far-away places as Japan, New Zealand and Wales to name a few.

Teaching the practical skills and technical knowledge of masonry at the Perth campus Scott and fellow professors strive to revive a dying trade. His policy is “Doing it slow and understanding the science,” Scott said.

Focusing on modern methods to prepare prospective masons for the trade, attention is also given to the historical aspect of the craft. Students learn how things were constructed in the past, how it influences practices today and how the two intertwine. The group also involves themselves with restoration projects as their skills develop.

This comingAugust, in their latest restoration project, students will begin the restoration of the Middleville and district Museum, which has fallen in disrepair. The Lanark limestone structure, built in the 1840s as a schoolhouse, is suffering from crumbling arches, cracked sills and joints in need of repair.

The class will be involved in all aspects of the project giving them valuable knowledge to how a project develops Scott said. From researching old blueprints to site planning and repair the students will be responsible for all aspects of the project.

Masonry may sound ideal however it has difficulties as with any career choice Scott admits. The work itself is physically demanding. Masons also often work at heights which may not be for the faint of heart. There is the added reality of seasonal work shortages which can affect income.

For all these detriments, however, there is a need for skilled tradespersons.

“Everyone’s getting a job,” Scott said.” It’s almost too easy.”

Oliver Swan, president of Local 7 International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, says the program has produced quite a few graduates, many of whom are now working on the renovation of Parliament’s West Block.

While Restoration masonry may be considered the “jam” of the job while brick and block work is the “bread and butter” on which income often relies.

The modern workshop can be seen during the open house April 18, 2014 at the Perth campus.