The Red Antiquities Building is an important piece of the fabric that is our community. From the 13 inch wooden boards to the side by side commercial and residential layout, there are so many aspects of this building which are both historical and unique. We invite you to read about these features in an online magazine simply called: The Red Antiquities Building. Enjoy!
It seems more and more these days that headlines and news stories sensationalize the questionable actions and comments of some of today’s youth. Broad brush strokes painted by some in the media might lead the casual observer to think there is little promise among the youth in our society and in our places of work. However, the red and cream coloured brush strokes which have helped restore and renovate the Red Antiquities Building tell a very different story and one worth celebrating.
Andrew MacDonald started with the Red Antiquities Building project in January of 2012. One of the youngest workers on the R.A.B. crew, Andrew’s work ethic and positive attitude is a shining example of what promising qualities can be found in our leaders of tomorrow.
Born in Barrie, Ontario, Andrew moved to London when he was 3 years old, enjoys music and playing basketball with friends but is very clear and concise in saying “right now my focus really is on my work. I’m learning so much and I love doing this job!” To some, Andrew’s sentiments may seem a little cliché, but spend a few moments simply observing Andrew on the job at the Red Antiquities Building and it doesn’t take long to realize that he fills his boots with honest hard-work and integrity. Site Foreman, Phil Caudle, is quick to point out, “He’s a great young worker! Some people you have to take time with and show them multiple times how to do something but not with young Andrew. He picks it up right away and does a fantastic job every time! He’s a natural!”
While Andrew will tell you he loves being “hands on” and agrees that being a “quick learner” is one of his greatest assets, Andrew also displays his affection for being a team-player by crediting co-workers like Phil Caudle for taking the time to describe the reasoning behind each technique and process that Andrew has been shown. “Guys like Phil and Jim have taught me so much when it comes to using various tools and how to do things right the first time. They tell me the reason why you do something and not just how to do it. I love learning the ‘why’ behind everything I do and that makes this job perfect for me!”
Andrew found his way to the Red Antiquities Building project by way of a co-op placement through the Pathways Skill Development Construction Technologies Training program – a nine week program allowing participants to increase their skills with a variety of tools and processes required to secure entry-level employment in the construction industry. Andrew’s demonstrated ability to quickly learn and implement new skills effectively led to Andrew being hired onto the R.A.B. project after his co-op was completed. “I did blocking for the drywall and helped the electrician pulling cable and doing simple connections. I’ve learned a lot of the little tricks of the trade that makes everything easier.” The tone in Andrew’s voice and the vibrance in his youthful expression is refreshing when he states, “It’s crazy the things I’ve been able to see and learn in such a short time!”
Already, Andrew brings experience in working with Sheet Metal, Roofing, Framing, Brick-laying and many tasks involved in home renovations but when asked what aspect of the Red Antiquities Building stands out the most in his mind Andrew answers with “The restoration of the windows have been unreal!” In fact, the restoration of the 138 year old windows of the R.A.B. have garnered a lot of attention and praise from the community surrounding the project and Andrew counts himself as extremely fortunate to play a part in the restoration having been entrusted with the painting and detailing of the wood framing. “Seeing the end product really is my motivation . . . how it looks, the look on the faces of people who see it and the great comments that they make. That’s what makes it worthwhile! That’s why I love to do the job – the end result!”
Watching Andrew interact with all members of the R.A.B. crew one can easily determine that Andrew has the ability to work with every crew member whether they be five years older or thirty years older. “We all get along. We’re like a big family and it makes the day go by so fast.” As for his family away from the job site, Andrew relates, “My family thinks it’s a great project for me to be involved with and they hope to someday see the finished product in person. I’m looking forward to seeing that full finished product, too! There’s been so much effort by everyone and I’m proud of what I’ve put into it . . . it feels so good to be a part of it all!”
With the finished product peaking over the horizon, Andrew looks to the future with much anticipation and hopes to continue to play an important role in both new construction and restoration/renovations. For the crew and all those involved in saving this historically significant wood building, Andrew has not only become part of the family but a very real and concrete example that the foundation of our tomorrow has great promise. Talented, hardworking and intelligent young individuals like Andrew MacDonald deserve to be celebrated and we are glad to do our part in letting London know they exist!
Bravo, Andrew! Bravo!
Through the years there have been many stories involving people who buy an old house, venture into the attic and find valuable artifacts and treasures, often worth small fortunes. When restoration on the Red Antiquities Building began we found a treasure in our attic in the form of David Weeks!
Born in London, David Weeks started at the R.A.B. in October of 2011. David has assisted the project in many ways including the interior framing and partitioning found in the basement, creating a functional space never before realized in this historical building. However, its David’s work in the attic of the Red Antiquities Building that will truly leave a lasting legacy for years to come! Years of foundation corrosion and deterioration of the wood frame and siding had left the roof and attic of the Red Antiquities Building in quite a precarious situation – much more serious than most first realized! Quite literally, the roof had shifted position and required some ingenuitive thought and skilled handy-work to stabilize the century old wooden truss work before a new roof could be installed. What we now realize the roof really needed was David Weeks!
When this writer first approached David to interview him in regards to his experience with the Red Antiquities Building, it proved to be quite a challenge. The challenge came in the form of trying to get David’s undivided attention, not for lack of focus on David’s part, but rather due to the fact that other members of the crew continually came to David for advice and recommendation in regards to their task at hand. It became clear, in short measure, that David’s experience and knowledge was well respected by his peers in the trade. David brings to the Red Antiquities Building Project a wealth of experience in Home Renovation, Wood and Steel Framing, Siding Installation, Painting and a head turning education that includes Biology, Chemistry and Robotic Technology. David’s wide array of perspective and his ability to visualize complex solutions led to his work in the attic of the R.A.B. and what he now calls his “Pride and Joy!”
“It definitely was a challenge,” says David as he thinks back to the work which required him to maneuver in small and limited spaces. “It went from being in a horrible state to being great and it was excellent to be a part of the challenge . . . when my work was inspected by the Engineers and it passed with flying colours on the first inspection it was an incredible feeling!” When R.A.B Site Supervisor, Barry Primak, talks about the work David did in stabilizing the roof he speaks with accolades, “That wasn’t an easy job! There was nothing easy or straightforward about it! Hand cut rafters needed to be retrofitted. David literally had to manufacture the Hip Girders up there, bringing the entire roof back into stabilization. He headed up that part of the project and he outright conquered it . . . he even exceeded my expectations! David is a very, very skilled framer and any company who picks him up will see him as a definite asset!”
David looks back at his experience with the Red Antiquities Building and identifies that he has learned a great deal. “I’ve had experience in my past with meeting Residential Code but this has allowed me to learn a lot about meeting Commercial Code. And the guys here have been great. They’ve been honest and open in approaching me and asking for help and I’ve really enjoyed helping them to problem solve. ” When asked what sets him apart in being able to accomplish the work which has garnered him so much respect, David simply answers, “I like to get a lot of stuff done as quickly and efficiently as possible, I don’t like excuses and in my mind there’s no problem that can’t be fixed!”
So what’s next for David? “I hope to go back to school for Physics. My education has played a key role in my understanding of Carpentry and I think Physics plays a role in so many things around us. I think I’d like to also focus on Architecture!”
Whatever the future holds for David Weeks, we know the key role he has played in literally upholding a piece of London’s history. When you travel by the Red Antiquities Building, look up and realize that beneath the new Decra Roofing exists a story and a unique treasure of exceptional craftsmanship!
“Thank You, David!”
According to City statistics, 30,000 vehicles pass by the Red Antiquities Building every day. The occupants of those vehicles are witnessing a transformation of commitment and dedication that has fortified a building long weathered by a multitude of elements. Standing in the shadows of the R.A.B. is an individual whose life has paralleled the story of the building in many ways and whose strength and determination is just as enduring.
Tim Baker was born in Montreal and spent a short time in Nova Scotia before moving to London where most of his formative years have been spent. Tim went to Sir George Ross Secondary school but admits a lot of his education has been rooted in the elements of Landscaping, a career he has enjoyed immensely for 26 years.
Tim started with the Red Antiquities Building in November of 2011 and came to the project having endured and overcome some significant health challenges. As the Red Antiquities Building started to enjoy rejuvenation, both physically and symbolically, so did Tim as he put on the work boots and hard hat. Tim confides, “I’m not here for the reason most would think. Mine’s not the typical story!” Tim outlines with passion the 26 years of “doing anything and everything in horticulture” and the journey that found him having to take a medical leave from the literal field that he loves so much. “I’m not one to sit around much. I love physical labour. So, when I was ready to return to work I went to Pathways and they told me about the Red Antiquities Building. Through the years I’ve had my share of work in construction . . . Dad always taught me not to put everything I do into one trade! And so when I heard about the R.A.B. it seemed like a good job until the warmer weather came around again and I could return to landscaping.” Under the sunny warm skies of an extraordinary March day, Tim beams with pride when detailing that his plan to return to horticulture comes into fruition when he begins a new landscaping job next month.
While Tim’s hard work, dedication and commitment will be missed at the R.A.B, what won’t be overlooked is the impact he has had on the Red Antiquities Building. Reflecting upon his time spent restoring and renovating this historic wooden building in the heart of SoHo, Tim nods his head repetitively, “A lot of scraping and stripping trim and a lot of painting. But I was happy to do it! I really just wanted to get back to work and now I’ve been a part of something really important. This building has come a long way and I really think it’s good for the City and its infrastructure to save our old buildings!”
It would be easy for the average person to complain about the painstaking task of restoring trim and frame from a building that has seen 138 years and multiple layers of paint. However, Tim’s strong and determined demeanor has garnered a lot of respect from his coworkers. R.A.B. Site Supervisor Barry Primak says, “He’s a hard worker! He’s done an incredible job on everything asked of him!” Tim concedes that his experience in landscaping and horticulture has instilled within him a strong work ethic that includes being a “perfectionist” and the ability to implement “great hand eye detail.”
Tim’s excellent attention to detail is perhaps best evident in the work he employed in restoring the Transom window above the main residence door at the RAB. Tim spent many hours in the confines of the cold basement of the building working on the window. “That took a lot of hours patiently heating, stripping and sanding the framing!” While the job required a great deal of meticulous attention, the heat gun required to do the job provided a welcomed source of heat in the dead of winter and the resulting restoration will be certain to warm the hearts of many who will enjoy the beautiful Transom window for years to come.
Looking to the future, Tim is excited to embark on his return as a Landscaper and speaks with tremendous pride about the fact that he’s only a few courses away from obtaining his Certification as a Horticultural Technician. When asked about personal dreams and desires, one topic in particular stands out. “Before I die I want to do two things: Go to B.C. and drive an Excavating Spider. If you don’t know what an excavating spider is just Google it! It’s an amazing piece of equipment that will just blow your mind!” For Tim who has experience operating large machinery, like Bobcats and Backhoes, the thought of operating an Excavating Spider creates a look upon his face similar to that of a kid on Christmas morning! “Given the chance, I’d do whatever it takes to operate an Excavating Spider and if it’s going to happen it would be in British Columbia. That’s pretty much the only place you’ll find an Excavating Spider in Canada.” For now, Tim is happy to spend his time away from work “with my daughter who is just a little over a year old. I love just hanging out with her!”
“I’ve met a lot of good people here. It’s been great helping to restore the R.A.B. and I’d love to tour through it when it’s all done and finished! It’s come such a long way!” The success of the Red Antiquities Building is due in large part to the countless hours put in by skilled workers like Tim Baker, doing fine, detailed work that will be admired for years to come. Without the commitment and dedication that Tim has exercised, day in and day out, the project wouldn’t have grown and blossomed the way it has to date! We have been fortunate to have the talents of Tim Baker and wish him much success as he begins his new job. Who knows, maybe some day we’ll be able to post a picture of Tim operating an Excavating Spider!
~ Greg Yarker