by Peter Ivay
Men’s Shed is a concept that began in Australia, spread to New Zealand, Great Britain, the U.S. and Canada. There are 55 Men’s Sheds in Canada with a strong local and national organization. The concept of Men’s Shed focuses on the mental health of men of retirement age who tend to enter this phase with a sense of excitement and relief from the world of work. Once the honeymoon is over, a foreboding feeling of loss, depression and loneliness sets in – UNLESS something comes to displace the void. Call it “separation anxiety” if you will, but men who transition from a busy and sometimes rewarding work life, may look forward to retirement and unless there is some form of replacement, a kind of “funk” or dark cloud forms from which, if not replaced, becomes a permanent mood of depression. Enter: “Men’s Shed”.
Men need men! Around the world, and this is nothing new, men gather in little groups at Tim Hortons, McDonalds, or at the local sports bar to share stories, ideas and laughter.
The best part of Men’s Shed is boys having fun together, building stuff, camaraderie, teaching each other skills and sharing personal stuff they never would share with wives or girlfriends. This is why Men’s Shed is exclusive to men. And it goes without saying, there are few things out there for men. You won’t find too many men out there at quilting bees and sewing circles!
Darrel O’Shaughnessy, a ten-year veteran, co-ordinator and founder of the thriving Men’s Shed-Arnprior describes the movement as a “mental health initiative”. You may have seen the recent CTV news clip of the boys from Arnprior making and sending wooden toys to children devastated during recent flooding in Nova Scotia. Garden planters, picnic tables and bird houses are fun group activities. The Arnprior Men’s Shed has over 50 men signed up for their Shed and have struck a budget of $100,000 for 2024. Although Men’s Shed Arnprior was Hospital-funded at the beginning, it is no longer dependent on that source.
Three retired gentlemen in Kemptville have been working at bringing Men’s Shed to Kemptville. Research into costs, finding a venue and assessing support has been extensive. The questions arise, “Is there a need for Men’s Shed in Kemptville? Do we follow the model of other sheds in Canada and equip a wood shop or similar facility?
After much research, the core team discovered that equipping a modern wood shop with new tools and equipment is likely ONE course of action. The cost of a startup wood shop with air filters and cleaners and new shop tools is in the $20,000 to $25,000 price range. BUT, if this is not what men want, there are other options!
Most Men’s Sheds in Canada are publicly funded by municipalities and health departments with additional support from public or private supporters. The monthly participant fee is $20.00. Men’s Shed never refuses men without the cash.
Where do we go from here?
Our initial meeting will be held at the Amphitheatre at Kemptville Campus Tuesday, February 6 at 1:30 pm. ALL WELCOME.
We are asking the men in the community to help us decide whether Men’s Shed is necessary to our community. Attendees will be asked to fill in a questionnaire to determine personal interests, manual skills and experience.