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Colwood carpenter earns top honours in national apprenticeship competition

0 194 Labour

by King Lee

Andrew Brown, a 31-year-old journeyman carpenter with Local 1598, nailed it on the head in Winnipeg last month when he captured his division of the Canadian National Apprenticeship Contest for carpenters, drywallers and millwrights.
National champion Andrew Brown with his trophy in front of Campbell Construction’s Aria condominium project in downtown Victoria where Brown is employed as journeyman carpenter.
National champion Andrew Brown with his trophy in front of Campbell Construction’s Aria condominium project in downtown Victoria where Brown is employed as journeyman carpenter.

Award

VICTORIA

Andrew Brown nailed it on the head in Winnipeg last month.

The 31-year-old journeyman carpenter captured his division of the Canadian National Apprenticeship Contest for carpenters, drywallers and millwrights. At the same time, he became the 10th British Columbian and fourth Greater Victorian to win the event in the 23-year history of the competition.

Brown, who only became a full-fledged journeyman carpenter in February, 2006, beat out nine rivals in the Manitoba capital in mid-August after beating out two competitors in the Victoria final to represent the 960-member Local 1598 carpenters’ union.

It was only five years ago that Brown, who lives in the West Shore community of Colwood with wife Tracy and 18-month-old daughter, Abbey, decided to take the entry-level carpentry training at Camosun College.

“I was sick of being cooped up inside,” admitted Brown, who was in the customer service field since the age of 16. “I didn’t know what carpentry was all about.”

His interest was piqued after he had taken a woodworking class at Camosun and Brown says he has never looked back. “I haven’t had a day off since I started,” said Brown, who retracted his statement when he remembered taking a couple of weeks off when his daughter was born.

Brown, originally from Calgary, is working on the 12-storey Aria condominium project in downtown Victoria, just a block away from the construction site of the The Fall where the road caved in earlier in September. Luckily, no one was injured in the mishap.

Wayne Cox, business manager of Local 1598, said the carpenters’ union currently has about 200 apprentices on the roster and that local construction companies can probably use about 200 more over the next 12 months.

Journeymen carpenters make a base wage of $29.33 an hour and benefits such as health, group RSP and holiday pay pushes that figure to about $36 an hour.

Cox said that where the ratio of apprentices to journeymen carpenters was one-to-five a few years ago, the current ratio is about one-to-one.

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