The building of walls is getting a pretty bad rap these days, thanks in no small part to the controversial U.S. border barrier being pushed by one Donald J. Trump.
However, that same act brought nothing but smiles Wednesday afternoon (February 1) at Fleming College’s Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre, as key players in the construction of the Peterborough County Agricultural Heritage Building gathered to herald a new partnership connected to the project.
As several Carpentry Techniques and Carpentry Technician students watched on, Craig Mortlock, vice-president of Peterborough-based Mortlock Construction Inc., announced that Fleming students are building the timber frame walls for the building, which will open September 24th at Lang Pioneer Village near Keene.
“Once we figure out how we could do this, it was like ‘Go’. I had been looking for opportunities to give kids a chance to show their skills and learn, so this was a perfect fit,” said Mortlock following the announcement of the partnership.
“At the end of the day, you’re in this trade (construction) because you can walk away from your job and you know the project you just completed isn’t getting filed in a filing cabinet. It’s tangible; it’s right there. You can walk up and you can look at it for the rest of your life; you can walk by it and feel the pride. I’m excited for these students to get that opportunity.”
Equally enthused is Fleming carpentry program co-ordinator Simon Mokedanz, noting 45 second-semester students and 36 fourth-semester students are involved in the project.
“We’ve been approached with lots of community-based projects but this is the first one which has allowed us to build such a large-scale project. This one worked well with the curriculum and the timing is right in terms of the shop time needed, so it fit the mold.”
VIDEO: Raise the Barn
The timber frame walls being built by Fleming students are being stored with construction of the building to begin in late March/early April — a “barn raising” as many referred to it Wednesday.
Following the 2006 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo held in Keene, a legacy fund was endowed to the County of Peterborough for the purpose of continuing local education on the impact and importance of the region’s agriculture heritage. There things sat until June 2015 when the County announced plans to build the Peterborough County Agricultural Heritage Building.
Planned features of the centre include the Peter Hamilton Agricultural Collection, the Peterborough County Agricultural Wall of Fame, agricultural equipment displays and operation demonstrations, a conservation lab, a multi-purpose space for various community activities, a commercial kitchen and an outdoor courtyard.
With a projected cost of $2 million, close to half that amount is being provided by the federal government via the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. The remainder is being raised via corporate and private donations. Donations can be made directly to the Raise The Barn campaign at www.raisethebarnptbo.com.
Now augmenting the fundraising effort, being overseen by County partnership development and fundraising manager Karen Jopling, is a video plea to Rick Mercer of Rick Mercer Report fame.
The video, featuring some of the Fleming students involved in the project, invites the comedian to come to Keene to help raise the walls of the heritage building. It’s hoped that those who do watch it will share it, including the hashtag #RaiseTheBarnRickMercer.
Also on hand Wednesday was County Warden Joe Taylor. He noted the County contributed $300,000 to the construction of the Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre. Now, Fleming students learning the carpentry trade in the centre are giving back — “a perfect example of how partnerships can work.”
The County, he added, hasn’t committed any dollars to the project yet but is on standby, waiting to see the final result of the fundraising effort. How any shortfall is handled, he said, “is a discussion for another day.”
For more information on the Peterborough County Agricultural Heritage Building project, visit www.raisethebarnptbo.com.