Apprentices face off in Carpenters Union competition


Special to the GTA Construction Report

The province’s top apprentices in carpentry, drywall, acoustic and lathing applicators and floor covering installers faced off recently at the 20th annual Carpenters’ Union provincial apprenticeship contest, held this year in Kitchener’s Victoria Park.

Put on by Carpenters and Allied Workers Local 785, Cambridge, the two-day event had a dozen or so apprentices in carpentry and drywall trades plus other floor covering apprentices, all from various union locals in Ontario working against the clock to complete projects.

Wilson Lei, one of the judges at the Kitchener event, says contestants were judged on the speed and accuracy of their work, but also on the how they completed the tasks how well they used the tools.

            The competing carpenters were required to complete concrete forming and build a wood wall, install drywall, a door frame and install a door.

On hand to assist with the contest’s judging, HGTV personality Jim Caruk says the annual contest is a great opportunity for apprentices to “show their skills.”

Caruk says it was a smart move to hold the event in a high-profile public venue – Victoria Park — because it exposed the general public to what the trades do.

“You got parents coming through here, thinking, ‘Wow, Maybe this is what my son or daughter could do, if they don’t want to go to university’,” he says.

Caruk believes the trades needs more help to gets today’s youth interested in careers in the construction industry. The government could play a big role, starting with reintroducing shop classes to school curriculum to help to increase the profile of an industry that is changing with the technological times.


“In my day this work was classed as blue collar but today it is not,” he says, pointing out that the industry has a high tech side that can make it a more attractive career option for youth today – if they knew about it.

In addition to two days of practical exams, contestants also had to complete written exams and were tested on transit and leveling equipment, says Lei, who won the 2004, provincial apprenticeship contest and placed second in the nationals that year.

The two-day show in Victoria Park also featured demonstrations of formwork, scaffolding displays, underwater divers at work and others that the public could access, says Sean O’Dwyer, senior business representative, Carpenters Loc. 785, the host for the event.

“We wanted this to be an informative event for the public as well as the biggest showcase of trades in town,” he adds.

Winners in each category will represent the province at the national apprenticeship contest to be held in St John’s, Nfld., later this summer.

Drywall contest

  1. Kevin Riddick, Local 397, Port Hope
  2. Jonathan Morash, Local 675, Toronto
  3. Tom Fairbank, Local 18, Hamilton

Floor covering contest

  1. Trevor Savoie, Local 27, Toronto
  2. Thomas Ecclestone, Local 27, Toronto
  3. Ryan Crowells, Local 27, Toronto

Carpentry contest

  1. Chris Rogacki, Local 27, Toronto
  2. Brad Longeway, Local 1256, Sarnia
  3. Andy Kotow, Local 494, Windsor


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