Making it their own: guys are starting to gather at the Men’s Shed. JEFF GAYE

The smell of sawdust and the sound of men at work bring a special satisfaction to Wayne Warner.

Warner has been the driving force behind the Cold Lake Men’s Shed. It’s been just over a year since he proposed the idea. Last week the Shed opened its doors, and “the guys” have been dropping in and getting things done.

The first order of business has been equipping the shed itself. This has meant collecting tools and materials—a New Horizons for Seniors grant has gone a long way towards this, as have several generous donations. 

But part of the Men’s Shed principle is that ownership is built with sweat equity, and volunteers are starting to put in time building benches and shelves and getting the place organized.

“If you want it you’ve got to build it, and you can see today they’re digging right in,” Warner said. 

The Men’s Shed had a “soft opening” last Tuesday. On Thursday, half a dozen men were in assembling things, and talking about the prospect of having a place to get together and work together on hobbies and community projects.

Warner has always insisted the idea is to have as little structure as possible, but as much as necessary.

The Cold Lake Men’s Shed is part of an international movement that started in Australia. It aims to give retired men a place to gather and a sense of purpose. 

“When men retire, they often find the guys they worked with
for years were really just acquaintances—they’re not really friends outside of the workplace,” Warner said. A Men’s Shed is a place where men can show up and work together, and keep some of that workplace camaraderie that had been so important during their working lives.

Members can use the space to pursue their hobbies, work together on community projects, or just get together for a game of cards.

Woodwork is a common activity, but there’s no limit to the nature of projects members might want to pursue.

“We do have a new member whose thing is reconditioning bicycles,” Warner said. “He’s been into this for quite a few years. He goes around and tries to find a few bicycles. 

“So if anybody’s got any bikes they want to get rid of, or somebody’s abandoned them or whatever, by all means, give us a shout. We’ll recondition them, and then if somebody needs a bicycle or can’t afford to buy their kid a bicycle, we’ll get them a bicycle. And if they can afford it, we’ll charge them a few bucks to offset the ones that can’t afford it.”

Other ideas are welcome, Warner said.

For now, the Men’s Shed space will be open Tuesday and Thursday evenings
from 6:00 to 9:00 pm and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. A one-year membership costs $20.00.

Warner is hoping to have a grand opening in the future, but he says that will have to wait until Covid-19 pandemic conditions permit it. 

“The time’s not right for the grand opening. But someday,” he said. “Maybe by fall we’ll be able to have a barbecue or some sort of an opening.”

The Men’s Shed is located in the industrial bays behind the Husky station in Cold Lake South. Anyone is welcome to drop in and check it out during their open hours, Warner said.

The Men’s Shed operates under the umbrella of Age Friendly Cold Lake.

Shelves are going up and benches are being built as the Men’s Shed opens up. JEFF GAYE