Bricklayers from across Waterloo Region will see how their skills compare to their peers in the annual Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 Regional – Ontario. The aim is to highlight one of the oldest trades in the world, as well as provide awareness and education to anyone who aspires to work in the trade.
“They arrive at noon,” explained Dean Garbutt, local representative. “Then they do their starter wall at around 1 o’clock. We have rules that we go over with the masons. And then we have separate rules for the laborers. So they do their starter wall, they lay up two courses of block and then one course of bricks. So they’re not working way down at the ground; they’re almost at their knees when they’re starting. Because your first course is really hard to lay out.”
Not just anyone can participate; each bricklayer must be at the level of a journeyman. Levels of experience include apprentice, journeyman, and master when it comes to careers in the trades. They also work in teams for the competition.
“You have a labourer; every bricklayer brings their own tender, or labourer, they call it,” said Lyndon Brubacher, a bricklayer of six years from Elmira, who will be participating in the event this year. “And then you guys work as a team and see how many bricks you can get. But you have to bring all your mortar, and all your bricks, and stuff like that. It definitely helps to have a good labourer who knows what he’s doing.”
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“They’ll go and surround the whole building with one layer or one wall, they’ll do all the starter course and then the main stuff,” added Garbutt. “And the top two masons will do that. And then the rest of the crew will come in and go to town on the wall as fast as they can. It’s to replicate a job site.”
Those who win the Waterloo Region division will go on to compete in the largest bricklayers’ competition in the world in Las Vegas on Jan. 23, 2019.
Although not just anyone can participate, everyone is invited to come out and watch the competitors at work.
“I’ve been a spectator at the event for a bunch of years now, so I thought it was time to enter,” said Brubacher. “There’s lots of things, even stuff for the kids; there’s lots of draws and raffle prizes, and all kinds of fun stuff. If you’re in the trade, they’ve got a lot of sales booths and free stuff – it’s good.
“They draw two or three TVs and a bunch of other smaller prizes – that’s for the spectators. You can buy tickets and enter draws to win these things. There’s lots of stuff to do. There’s always tons of people there.”
Spec Mix Inc, which produces factory pre-blended cement-based building products for the construction industry, launched the competition in 2003.
This year’s event is set for September 5 at, appropriately enough, the school of trades and apprenticeship branch of Conestoga College at 108 University Ave. E. in Waterloo.