Bricklayer Nina Widmer is no stranger to forging her own path, having gone from quick study to trades leader in the past six years.
Widmer’s fingerprints are, quite literally, on some of Manitoba’s most remarkable masonry restoration projects. With Alpha Masonry Ltd., where she’s worked with her father — German-born master craftsman, Alfred — since the age of 17, Widmer has been a part of historical restoration projects such as the University of Winnipeg’s Wesley Hall and the A.A. Heaps Building (Bank of Nova Scotia).
Recent highlights for Widmer also include an interior restoration of the ornamental ceiling in the Millennium Centre — one of the city’s finest gala venues. Another project, just outside the city, was the restoration of the perimeter defense walls and gun ports at Lower Fort Garry, one of the province’s most popular spots for taking a stroll back through time.
“It was an amazing project. It taught me a lot of old-school techniques of slaking lime and all that fun stuff — that was a really neat project to be a part of.”
Passion for the trade comes through immediately when talking to Widmer, and she credits a childhood spent with her father on different restoration projects for falling in love with all things masonry.
“Watching him replicate ornamental masonry units that were deteriorating, and reinstalling the new unit that he had made — that seamless recreation of the facade was not only intriguing but also mind-blowing at that age,” said Widmer.
“Now that I’ve learned his craft by working alongside him, restoration projects are always my favourite because I get to put my skills to the test and see if I can replicate and restore as well as he can.”
The passion came with hard work, too, as Widmer blazed her own trail in Red River College’s Masonry apprenticeship program; graduating in 2014, she is Manitoba’s first female Red Seal Mason. In 2017, she was awarded Apprenticeship Manitoba’s Journeyperson of the Year – Urban after being nominated by her trade peers.
Widmer chalks these accomplishments up to self-belief and dedication to the craft, which was certainly part of her RRC experience.Read More →