The Miramichi Senior SawdustMakers Inc.
The Miramichi Senior SawdustMakers Inc. are an active group of seniors that have come together for a common goal – to make sawdust.
“We make sawdust with everything from chainsaws to files,” says the group’s founder Reg Hare. Reg first started the group when he noticed there was a lack of things to do for him and his retired friends and many were missing the social aspect in their lives, now that they weren’t working every day.
“I had heard of a similar woodworking group in Fredericton and I thought it would be a good idea to do the same thing here,” says Reg.
The group’s mission statement is “to provide a venue where seniors can pursue a mental, physical, and socially stimulating activity by working with wood. The goal is to provide a workshop with space and tools to carry out various woodworking activities such as carving, turning, marquetry, and carpentry. From birdhouses to fine furniture, from novice to expert, from learning to teaching. sharing our knowledge and skills will enrich the lives of all participants.”
With the help of the city, the group recently found a new permanent home inside the historic Carriage House at the W.S. Loggie Cultural Centre on Wellington Street. While the space receives some repairs and upgrades the group continues to work in a space provided by one of the members.
“We currently have more equipment than we can display,” says Reg. “Just one of the reasons why getting a larger space and permanent workshop is so important. The City has been very supportive of us and we’re working with them to make it happen.”
The shop is open from 9 am to 5 pm and members can use it to work on community projects as well as home projects. There is always another member there to provide assistance if needed.
The group meets once per month except in the summer, to decide on the community projects they’ll work on over the winter and share ideas on fundraising opportunities. Community projects the group has made include a wheelchair accessible swing for the Miramichi Senior Citizens Home, Tiny Free Libraries for placement around the community to support literacy, a scale model of a Sabre jet for Maurie’s Mini-put and Ice Cream, and many more. They also often combine learning new techniques with a chance to do charitable work, such as when they made wig stands for the Cancer Society of NB, which was also an exercise in lathe work.
Mike Wyatt, who is the Secretary for the group, moved here from Alberta two years ago and says joining the SawdustMakers was a perfect fit for him because he enjoys woodworking and meeting new people.
“It’s the social aspect that is the most fulfilling part for me, learning and sharing information over a common interest,” says Mike. “I walked into that first meeting new to the area and not knowing anyone and I immediately felt welcome.”
Mike was also impressed by the wide range of skills in the membership.
“Our members range from complete novices to very skilled craftsmen. Everyone is very willing to share their knowledge and provide guidance to anyone who asks. Being a member opens you up to a whole network of expertise.”
Attending the Miramichi Home Show is a big event for them each year. They usually have a large display area with members on hand demonstrating how to use the tools and do certain techniques. It also offers an opportunity to make items for sale such as bird and bee houses and chairs. The money raised goes into purchasing new equipment and materials for future projects. The local community has also been very supportive by donating lumber and woodworking tools they no longer use.
The SawdustMakers are incorporated as a not-for-profit organization and currently have 20 members, of which 25% are female. Membership fees are $100 per year and help cover the cost of materials and maintaining the workshop. For more information contact Mike Wyatt at 346-0092. You can also follow them on Facebook @sawdustmakers and watch their videos on YouTube.
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