Dave Smith, Jeff Wilson and Robin Marks have their tools ready for the start of a new Men’s Shed chapter in Jasper. What they don’t have is a place to house those tools and a workspace to use them in. | S.Hayes photoScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Two local organizers are searching for a space suitable enough to house a shed, a chapter of Men’s Shed to be exact.

Two weeks ago, Jeff Wilson and Robin Marks made a pitch to municipal council for financial support. While the ask mentioned rent, utilities and materials, the real key to their objective is finding 400 square feet to call home.

“Our big issue is trying to find space,” Marks said. “I’ve talked to just about everybody I know.”

The two are already in the process of preparing their application to formalize their status as a not-for-profit organization.

Men’s Shed is an international organization that started in Australia in the 1990s as a way of combating senior men’s mental health issues, primarily depression and loneliness. 

Men, those early organizers determined, speak about important personal issues when they stand shoulder to shoulder with other men. 

The solution is simple: give them tools and projects to work on. While they work, they talk. At the end of the day, they have built and fixed things for the community, and they have gotten some things off their chests, too.

“I think almost all the projects that are adopted by various Sheds are philanthropic. They do things for the community, whether it be building sets for the local drama class at school or something like that, because the schools are all short on money,” Wilson said. 

“They’re always looking for stuff like that for seniors that have neither the energy or the ability or the money to do minor projects that most of the contractors in town will not touch at all, because it’s just not worth their time. There’s a huge philanthropic gap that’s possible in a community like this.”

Another huge facet of Men’s Sheds is mentorship and passing skills. Organizationally, it has grown to include men of all ages. It has also grown to include women in many chapters. 

“You think about Jasper: in our senior community, there is a wealth of information whether it be about life skills or about the park or anything under the sun,” Wilson said. “It’s one way of passing it on to others.”

Men’s Shed Canada became a federally incorporated non-profit association, and the movement is growing. It has 75 chapters across the country, 18 of which are listed in Alberta.

Marks said he first learned of it through the Squamish chapter over the last few years. He told Wilson, and the idea blossomed to bring it to this mountain town.

“I was kicking this idea around and mentioned it to a couple of guys,” Marks said. “About two months ago, it just started to get a little more focused. I talked to eight people, all of whom were interested. We started meeting about a month ago. It’s good idea.”

Council moved to accept the presentation and invited Wilson and Marks back when they were ready. For the time being, anyone who has potential space for a local Men’s Shed chapter can contact the organizers via email to jeffwilsonedmtn@hotmail.com.

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 20, 2023 at 15:00

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

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