Pavilion Project to Draw 150 Timber Framers From Across North America
Railway and Forestry Museum CEO Ranjit Gill and Timber Framers Guild rep Randy Churchill – photo 250News
Prince George BC -The clock is ticking towards phase one of the pavilion project at the Railway and Forestry Museum in Prince George.While the aim of the project is to provide accessibility for all, and protection for the exhibits from the elements, the project also offers a significant educational component.
Project lead is Randy Churchill of the Timber Framers Guild. He says this type of construction faded in the early 1900s,but a resurgence was sparked in the 1970s when some timber framing enthusiasts looked at some old barns in the eastern U.S. Now, timber framers get together on community projects such as the Railway Pavilion project to learn from each other, and share their knowledge of the craft.
“It’s popular again because people like the craft, the activity and the spirit in the product,” says Churchill “There’s a lot of spirit, character, craft that you don’t see in other products.
Timber framing and log house building are “sister crafts” says Churchill who is the lead on the pavilion project “It’s like Chevy and Ford. they’re roughly similar, have a lot individuality, but also have some overlap. They both have enthusiasts, they both have characteristics that are unique.”
The Timber Framer Guild’s mission is education, and the partnership with the Railway and Forestry Museum to build the pavilion presents an educational opportunity. Churchill has been meeting with reps from both CNC and the University of Northern B.C. to develop programs that would see timber frame construction augment existing trades training or design and innovation. “We want to educate the public, we want to educate architects and engineers about these kind of buildings. We want to help educate our members and provide them with new training and craft and what’s the latest in technology. What we do is not all 200 year old technology, we are not all purists about it. Some of us realize that new structures, new buildings, especially here in B.C. have to deal with snow load, earthquakes and have to pass the building code.”
The Wood Innovation and Design Centre at UNBC, will be using this project to learn how to design a structure, fabricate joints, and cut many of those components that will be used in the project. He says the discussions with CNC are aimed at exposing apprentice carpenters to timber framing as a trade option. “The other thing the college gets into with its programming is providing continuing education and professional education, so somebody who is already a carpenter or general contractor needs on going education, and they (CNC) could provide a course to expose those folks to heavy timber construction.”
It is a lucrative trade says Churchill who has been doing timber framing for a quarter of a century now and says he has a year long wait of clients who want heavy timber framed projects.
Phase one of the project will get underway May 22nd and will see timber framers from all across North America coming to Prince George to get the pieces ready over a two week period. Then there will be a break, and the Timber Framers will return in July to put all the pieces together on the pavilion that , when finished, will be 45 ft wide, and 266 feet long. Long and wide enough to house 8 rail cars.
It’s all volunteer work. “The experienced folks that come into a project like this, provide a firehose of knowledge to the newbies and the folks who come in are just inundated with information” says Churchill “They go away really jazzed saying ‘wow, this is cool I would like to do this for a while’.”
The public is invited to help in either of the two phases, but anyone wanting to be on site for this work, must pre-register so everyone meets the WorkSafe BC requirements. Registration forms are available by visiting the Timber Framers web page for this project, which can be accessed here. Churchill encourages all who are interested in taking part to register no later than May 1st .