Rosemount Technology Centre launches new carpentry program

By Terry Haig

The Rosemount Technology Centre, where skilled teachers and administrators offer a slew of vocational studies programs, has something new going on. It's an intense 705-hour carpentry course, physically based in space made available at Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North, leading to a STC-Skills Training Certificate designed to prepare and propel a student into a welcoming workforce.

This represents a pretty good time to strap on a carpenter’s tool belt at the moment, and 44 students are doing just that right now at the RTC. They’ve been at it since February and will be there until October (with a break in June).

“This has been something the EMSB has been pursuing for quite a while now,” says RTC Vice-Principal Ruben Azevedo, who, working under the auspices of   Principal John Pevec, has the carpentry program up and humming.  “We wanted to offer the carpentry program, and now we finally have the chance to offer this STC program. We were never given the chance before,” 

“I would say it offers the most specific points of what the full DEP (Diploma of Vocational Studies) does. It is more intense, and it’s designed to fast-track people into the construction industry. 

“Basically, they are going to be able to go on a construction site fully ready to build up a full house from the foundation–all the framing, how to install a door, how to install forms, how to do it all.”

The new RTC carpentry course follows an initiative launched last fall by the Quebec government called the Construction Training Offensive, designed to train between 4,000 and 5,000 people in professions in high demand.

When the Ministère de l'Éducation (MEQ) said it would be providing school boards with the opportunity to offer additional vocational programs, the English Montreal School Board leaped at the chance.

The new space was refitted, professional carpenters were hired to teach, and students–pencils, hammers and saws at the ready–began taking classes and workshops on Feb. 29.

“We hear a lot about the lack and shortage of labour in the construction field,” said Mr. Pevec. “This is just a great initiative to ensure that more individuals who are interested to learn these hands-on techniques and skills are able to pursue their dreams, if that’s what they are looking for.” 

One of the students doing just that is Patrick Sanzari, 40, a long-time road maintenance and landscape worker.

“I wanted a change,” Mr. Sanzari said during a brief workshop break. “It was a long time. It was hard work. I wanted to do something else. I saw an opening in this program and I went for it, you know.” 

“I’ve always liked wood. I always liked the construction of houses, though I’ve never done it. It was always in the back of my mind. I got trapped with the paving. I met some people and I started working with them. I got caught up in it.

“With this, you build a structure. You are proud of it, you know. You build a house that’s going to be there longer than I’ll be alive.

“I’m feeling pretty good about this. I want to get to work as fast as I can. I want to get things organized and we’ll take it from there.”

Martin Renshaw,  who with Evan Giancaspro teaches the course, explained what drew him to carpentry 14 years ago. 

“I was always interested in real estate,” Mr. Renshaw said. “My parents were landlords and I saw carpentry was something very practical to know because I noticed that they kept hiring general contractors and the general contractor was generally a carpenter. 

“So how come the general contractor was generally going to be a carpenter? How come the developer associates himself with carpenters more than electricians and plumbers. They aren’t as complete of the full understanding of the cost and effort that it takes to build a home.”

As anyone who has ever stepped inside a carpenter’s workshop to breathe the heady, magical scent of oil and wood that fills the air might suspect, there’s a whole lot more to the carpentry than one might first realize. 

It’s not just about working with wood.

I asked Mr. Renshaw about what carpentry has taught him.

“You learn a lot about yourself, that things don’t necessarily work out the way you might have thought initially,” he responded. “And you’re going to learn with time to under promise–overdeliver is going to be your friend.

“You are going to learn to be less optimistic and more realistic sometimes, and these things are going to change your personality because as you’re building a home or doing major renovations, there are so many moving parts, that it’s really hard to forecast everything and perfection equals paralysis. You can’t think that things are going to be perfect.

“You realize that building a home, there’s an incredible budget. It’s almost an entire life’s savings. There’s going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of optimism from people who don’t have experience–both from the general contractor, carpenter and client. If they don’t have experience, they will generally be very optimistic, sometimes too optimistic. With all these moving parts you realize you are becoming more mature, seeing life in a different way. Never go anywhere with nothing in your hands, for example. This is something you are going to learn on a job site. You are not going to waste your time walking back and forth with your hands empty. You’re going to start learning how to transfer these skills to your life. You start feeling better about managing time.”

And just how much time does everyone have?

Ah, that question is the process of being called.

“It’s temporary,” Mr. Azevedo explains. “We  don’t have the full authorization yet to offer and to continue to offer these programs so we are on a yearly basis. 

“We are continuing to pursue the authorization from the ministry to be able to offer the program.”

A worthwhile path. To understate.

To find out more about the Rosemount Technology Centre and its four campuses, please go to 


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