The office of Brian Gebhardt, a Masonry instructor at Red River College, is reminiscent of the classrooms adjacent to it: surrounded by projects and artwork made of bricks, with a layer of dust on every surface.
Gebhardt is everything one would expect from a mason — covered in the same dust that cakes his office, with calloused hands hardened from almost 45 years in the trade.
For 30 of those years, that dust has been a byproduct of his work at RRC, and this year he received the highest honour an apprenticeship instructor can achieve when he was named Instructor of the Year by Apprenticeship Manitoba.
Gebhardt doesn’t let a little dust bother him; after all, he’s been working with bricks since his first construction job right out of high school, where time spent watching and talking with masonry veterans sold him on the trade.
“They seemed to enjoy what they were doing, and wage-wise it was what I was looking for,” he says.
To get a foot in the door, Gebhardt cold-called as many masonry contractors as he could to ask for a job, which he eventually landed — through what he’s convinced was a real-life game of Telephone.
“I phoned them and said, ‘I want to be a bricklayer,’ and I think he thought I said, ‘I am a bricklayer.’ And he said, ‘Have your tools tomorrow at 1700 Taylor,’” Gebhardt recalls with a smile.
“I picked up some tools — I had none — and I showed up at the job.” Read More →