It’s not every day you get asked to build a sedan chair. The elaborate wooden structure, complete with seats, curtains, walls and a roof, was used to carry a bride during a part of her wedding ceremony.
The chair is just one of hundreds of items that have been built or fixed over the years at St. Timothy’s Workshop, located in a building behind St. Timothy, Agincourt.
Each week, a group of men gather in the shop to do woodworking, some metal work and other odd jobs. “We take a look at anything that comes in, and if we believe we can do it, we go ahead,” says Bill Gibson, the group’s spokesperson.
The shop has produced some memorable items. One was the large cross that was used during the diocese’s sesquicentennial celebrations in 1989. The wooden cross was displayed in various churches in the diocese before being carried into the Skydome (now the Roger’s Centre) for a service attended by thousands.
The men have made prayer book racks and have refurbished baptismal fonts, railings and churchwardens’ wands. They work on non-religious items, too. Recently they wove the cane bottom of an antique chair. One of the men is building a small lap table so a person can read an iPad in bed. Their current big project is restoring a dining room table.
The shop is fully equipped with table saws, band saws, drill presses, sanders, hand tools and countless other items that have accumulated over the years. But Mr. Gibson stresses that anyone can join the group, whether they’re skilled or not.
“If you can sweep the floors and put tools away, you can join,” he says. “The group is about fellowship – that’s our primary purpose. It’s not to make money or anything like that. It’s just a good group of guys.”
Any money the group earns is given to the church, he says, mostly to pay for the upkeep of the shop building. Most of their orders come to them through word of mouth.
The group first formed in the early 1970s as a men’s club and the numbers have fluctuated over the years. At one time, membership reached 100 but currently there are about 10 men who gather at the shop each week.
Mr. Gibson says it’s a great opportunity for men to “get out of the house” and take up a hobby. In addition to woodworking, they also make wine and have lunch together. “Our primary focus is on fellowship,” he says. “We all enjoy each other’s company.”
The shop is open on Monday and Tuesday mornings until noon, and occasionally on Thursdays. The church and shop are located at 4125 Shepperd Ave. E., Toronto. For information about joining the group or enquiries about items that need to be made or fixed, call the shop at 416-438-4055.