It is very gratifying to finally have an organization underway – Mid-Island Woodworkers’ Guild – which can represent woodworkers of all skills and crafts in the mid-Vancouver Island region! I must admit that the process to get here had very personal and selfish motivations.
After I retired from teaching in a classroom, teaching educational technology, and later…teaching on the water as a sailing instructor, I decided it was time to learn – a new hobby. I had always yearned to know more about woodworking. This probably came, partly from a much-admired uncle who had a successful woodworking business in the Okanagan, and partly from a very limited woodworking course when I was in Grade 7 in the military camp at Griesbach – in Edmonton. (We were bussed into a local high school for one afternoon a week.)
So, about 4 years ago, I began to accumulate tools for some small projects that I had in mind, but as my interest grew, so did my investments – in more, and better tools. With increasing purchases, I had an increasing awareness of personal dangers, I definitely needed mentoring, coaching and/or access to woodworking instruction. Internet searches provided almost the only instruction that I could find in the mid-Island region. Fine woodworking courses were only offered from Camosun College in Victoria, and from North Island College in Comox. Nanaimo had (and still has) NO fine woodworking courses – either through our local Vancouver Island University and its trade programs, nor through adult education in the Community Recreation programs.
Fortunately for me, I was able to meet and gain some insights from the woodworking instructor at a local High School – John Noble. He, and a retired colleague Ieuan Williamson, have helped me over some hurdles of safety and usage, and thus I am still able to type this letter and play my guitar with all ten fingers. (My father and my woodworking uncle had both lost fingers to machines. When I was very little, I am sure that I thought that it was normal for a man to have only 7 fingers.) This has been a goal from the beginning – to be a 10 fingered woodworker.
Still, I longed to get to know others locally who practise and love woodworking and who would be willing to provide mentorship on occasion, and to share their experiences. Also, I love seeing the craftsmanship involved in a wide range of woodworking products. Luckily, my wife has encouraged my hobby, and introduced me to a model of an organization that could provide the fellowship that I was looking for. She belongs to the Nanaimo Quilters’ Guild – a very successful group of quilters with several hundred members who are highly productive, highly social, and very socially responsible in their generosity to charitable activities. I began to dream of belonging to a woodworkers’ guild parallel to that organization.
In the Spring of 2015, with a brand new 500 square foot woodworking shop (another story), and almost a full collection (never happen!) of tools, I decided to contact the Vancouver Island Woodworkers’ Guild to explore the concept of a local chapter of that organization. The Executive welcomed me and was very positive in its support of what I was proposing. I joined! As a member of VIWG, I kept in contact with Rick Lloyd, and Wayne Holmes, Brian McLaurin, Steve Neil and others, and over a number of months of musings, we finally agreed that the best model might be a separate entity for the mid-Island region. In September, I began the process of registering and incorporating a new society – the Mid-Island Woodworkers’ Guild. As I worked my way through the processes, I spoke with other interested folks, who spoke with others, and so on. With a couple of posters in strategic places, an ad on Craigslist and word of mouth, the numbers of interested folks grew. As of the date of the first meeting on January 27, 2016, there were 49 people on my growing interest email list – with more unofficially following the process.
So…here we are! Mid-Island Woodworkers’ Guild exists! We are ONE!
See you soon!