By Jennifer Wallace

Some high schools in Ottawa that offer trades courses stopped by on Nov. 6 to Algonquin’s Perth Campus open house.

About 300 students are currently attending the college which offers specialized trades programs among others.

“One high school is visiting from Kanata today with around 80 to 90 students,” said Jon Holmes, a heritage and trades information staff member with the Woodroffe campus who was giving tours in Perth.

Nov. 6 was a lighter open house geared more towards high schools with trades programs, and a more detailed, in-depth open house taking place in Perth on Nov. 27 which more people will be attending.

Students found out about Perth’s unique programs such as heritage trades, customized construction work like timber framing and even learn about old stone houses current students are restoring.

“We often use very specialized wood, and all new technology including stop-saws in our programs here,” said Holmes.

As the years go on, Perth campus will have more designs throughout the college that the students have built or restored such as fire-place frames, wooden furniture and the stone wall masonry.

“I’m on hand today to meet and greet people and take others on tours if they’d like,” said Ben Smalley, a second-year student in heritage carpentry at Perth and employee for orientation activities.

Perth campus offers programs that can be taken outdoors too, such as traditional brick-laying, and renovating and restoring heritage homes in the carpentry program. Many of the things built on-site at the campus are dismantled there as well.

“We are facilitating an overview of the masonry program today: discussing the program, projects students work on and the job prospects in the field,” said Darrin MacDonald, a professor and coordinator for the masonry program at Perth.

“Last year we actually had 100 per cent employment from students that graduated from the Masonry program and most are now working on the parliament building,” said Holmes.

Not surprisingly, many students from the trades programs at Perth are selected for the Mike Holmes Bursary awards from the Holmes foundation for their exceptional work. They are each individually awarded $1,500. These awards are designed to encourage students to complete their education in the trades.

“People that come to the open house either like history or like working in the shops or someone in their families been involved in the trades,” MacDonald said.

If people aren’t impressed, outside the college a stone wall is in progress of being built; they eventually plan on building it around the whole college. Each year the students add a bit more to the stone wall and have been taught how to build the wall in a way that doesn’t require anything to hold the stones together.

The college also offers a new fitness centre and they even have a special humidified room in their library with all of the city of Perth’s archives stored at the college.

Students visiting the open house were are not limited to free coffee and snacks.

“If there’s enough time, we will actually let them lay bricks, which is less boring than talking about the history of masonry,” said MacDonald.

“There’s less students here this year than last year,” said Jade Canough, a second-year student in early childhood education at Perth’s open house.

Perspective students interested in Perth’s programs came from as far as the Ottawa Valley.