Bob Shawcross plucks the string of his washtub bass. Syrupy notes rumble out and fill the common room during a recent Woodhaven Men’s Shed meeting at the Westwood Community Church.
Shawcross is charmingly aware of the instrument’s DIY appearance. A fellow Men’s Shed member donated the vintage washtub, and Shawcross supplied the instrument’s neck, which is actually a walking stick he carved during a past gathering.
The bass adds comic relief to the guitar circle, he said.
Woodcarving and guitar are two of the principal activities offered during Woodhaven Men’s Shed’s Wednesday meetings, which run from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
Winnipeg resident Doug Mackie founded the first Canadian Men’s Shed in 2011. The group is a way for local men, most of whom are in their late fifties to early nineties, to get together over a cup of coffee or work on a hobby in the company of others.
Shawcross joined the club five years ago and is now its membership director. He’s happy the group is back up and running, now that restrictions allow double-vaccinated members to come by.
Woodhaven Men’s Shed also hosts coffee and cards on Tuesdays from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
"We’re always looking for ways to bring more members in to make it more enjoyable," Shawcross said.
For Shawcross, one Men’s Shed project inspires the next. He unzips a guitar case resting at his feet.
"I’m also learning how to play the bass guitar," he said, as he carefully places his fingers on the strings.
Shawcross didn’t know any club members before joining. Now, he knows many of them quite well.
Rodger Hurtubise holds court behind the serving window of the church’s industrial kitchen, offering coffee with a side of conversation to the men who walk up. Hurtubise, a retired Red River College culinary instructor, is relatively new to the group but has already found his niche.
"Summertime is not a problem, but in the wintertime, I need something to keep me busy," Hurtubise said.
"I need the interaction. I’m a people kind of person … If I’m down in my man cave watching TV or playing cribbage online, that’s not very stimulating."
Jerry Oleschuk is the president of the Woodhaven Men’s Shed. Oleschuk helped facilitate the group’s move from the Woodhaven Community Centre to its new location nearly a year ago. The turnout has been great so far, he said. The recent meeting drew roughly 30 participants.
"I just can’t believe how it’s taking off," Oleschuk said. "People are coming with their guitars … buying ukuleles."
The Men’s Shed is currently offering watercolour classes on the first and third Wednesday of each month.
This week, 93-year-old Jan Zonneveld brought his father’s heirloom art supply case to the workshop.
Zonneveld proudly showcased his daughter’s watercolour paintings he has carefully stacked in the chest.
Those interested in taking part in the painting class are asked to call board member Brian McMillan at 204-837-8641 to secure a spot.
Looking ahead to the winter, Woodhaven Men’s Shed plans to host a Christmas dinner that will feature the guitar group. The club will soon offer glass mosaic workshops, too.
Katlyn Streilein is the reporter/photgrapher for The Metro.