Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Students put pedal to metal to complete real-life construction projects

Canadian Contractor

With graduation just weeks away, it’s ‘All hands on deck’ at this Orillia high school

After some weather delays and school-sponsored charity events, the heavy construction majors at Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School in Orillia are working towards a fast-approaching deadline for their two real-life construction projects.  The focus is on a 12 x 16 heavy timber cabin being custom-built for a local resort. “We’ve got about five courses of logs to go to reach full wall height,” says shop teacher Brett Carron. “We have 16 days to finish. We’re on track, but we need everybody here every day.”

The log cabin, as previously reported, is bound for Fern Resort on Lake Couchiching, a 20 minute drive from the school. After the students build the walls to full height, the entire structure must be disassembled and loaded onto a truck, then reassembled on a concrete slab-on-grade at the final site. The final assembly and roof structure, however, will be done by the Fern Resort staff. Fern has been over to the school periodically to check on the building during the assembly. “They’re very pleased,” says Carron.

The school gazebo project is also nearing completion, with an install date of 2018. “We’ll be putting it up beside the playing field probably the beginning of next year,” says Carron. “It will involve some foundation piers which we’re not going to be able to get to this year due to permitting and so on. We’ll take it down in a week or so and do all the final sanding and edging, stack it, and let it dry away until 2018.”

2018 is already shaping up
The student project for next year is already confirmed —another log cabin for Fern Resort similar to the current one to be placed alongside and linked with a breezeway. This past spring, Carron’s class was involved in renovations inside the Patrick Fogarty building itself, specifically transforming some surplus library space into a new teaching area. This type of project will continue next spring too, with the class undertaking more improvements in and around the school property itself. They’ll even do some work over at Monsieur Lee Catholic School next door, assembling new playground and constructing some wooden benches and tables for the elementary students.


How I’ll spend my summer vacation
Six or seven of Carron’s students have landed summer jobs in construction, a satisfying point for Carron since his course is designed to prepare young skilled workers for a potential career in construction. Carron is also hoping that most of his current Grade 11’s will return to his heavy construction course next year and be the leaders of the 2018 class.

As for Carron himself, he expects to be spending a good part of his summer installing interlock paving on his own driveway and then renovating a friend’s basement.

Have a look at a gallery of photos taken during the final days of the two projects…

Precision is important, since all windows and doors have already been ordered to size


Matt, one of the student leaders on the cabin project, shapes a corner of one of the last few courses of logs


Five more courses of logs to go…then it all comes down and travels by truck to Fern Resort, about 20 minutes away.


The school’s new gazebo, to be assembled beside the playing field in 2018, nears completion


Carron’s students have been taught the highest level of quality construction

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