Local wood craftspeople are hoping to grow another club from seeds sown over the last few years.
Friends of the Barrie/Simcoe Community Woodshop — the current name of the organization — are looking to revive the club.
But they need a new home.
Originally called the Victoria Village Woodworkers, then the Barrie Community Woodshop and a couple of other names later on, members were responsible for running the village’s wood shop through a City of Barrie program.
In its heyday, it provided a public service to various organizations such as the Scouts, the Terry Fox Run, Camp Quality (a camp for kids with cancer) and Emma King Elementary School (and its work with autistic students), to name a few.
“All of the work was voluntary on the part of the members,” Wes Prosser tells BarrieToday. “We also worked on consignment projects to raise money to help cover our costs. In addition, we offered services (sometimes for a fee) to any member of the public who needed some assistance in dressing lumber, repairing furniture or other similar assistance.”
All of those services were lost when the doors suddenly closed.
“The members handled day-to-day operations, including security, supervision and training, etc., but in 2012, the city decided to close the Victoria Village Activity Centre, which included the wood shop, a gymnasium, offices, computer labs and other facilities,” Prosser says.
Despite the activity centre closure, the Barrie Community Woodshop remained based out of Victoria Village’s work shop until 2016 when it was closed for good.
“The Barrie Woodworkers Club, by agreement, continued as a loose-knit group with an executive and membership, but no home,” Prosser says. “At the time of closing, there were 151 recorded members on the city list — they handled membership and fees — and through time the number has declined to about 25 to 30 individuals who are hanging on to the hope we will reopen the doors.”
The Barrie Woodworkers Club was not incorporated and therefore could never sign a lease or acquire insurance, he adds.
“So in 2019, we decided to incorporate as a non-for-profit organization and selected the name Barrie/Simcoe Community Woodshop,” Prosser says.
Over the years, the group has worked with the city to revive the woodworking club, but for whatever reasons the ventures proved unsuccessful.
But there could be brighter days ahead, Prosser says.
“We are independently pursuing a new home,” he says.
Prosser also says working with wood can bring different benefits to some people.
“The woodshop provided an opportunity and outlet for a variety of individuals, including some who were on rehabilitation programs,” he says. “We found that given the opportunity to work with their hands was therapeutic for their own personal situation.
“We ran a program in co-operation with the Canadian Mental Health Association where we did all the tool work and the participants did the assembly," Prosser adds. "And we provided training to potential woodworkers to give them an opportunity to experience woodworking without becoming a member.”
To learn more, contact the club by email at email@example.com.