April 9, 2019 6:48 pm

Riverdale High School shop class builds its last canoe as students say goodbye

Students in the woodworking class at Riverdale High School have been working on a special project. They've spent the school year building a canoe. As Global's Billy Shields explains, what makes this project so special is the fact that it will be the last woodworking project at the school, which is slated to shut down in June.

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For Peter Oland, shop class isn’t about woodworking, but problem solving.

Oland told Global News he encourages his students at Riverdale High School “to go explore and then come back and say, ‘I want to try this, how do I do it?'” Last year, his shop class built its most ambitious project — a handmade, functional cedar canoe.

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This year, the school is making its second — and last — canoe.

Students learned how to set strips of cedar together to ensure a watertight seal in the hull of the boat. They also installed scuppers along the gunwales so that the boat wouldn’t swamp in the water.

The school is set to close at the end of this academic year, part of a reorganization that will see the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board taking over the building.

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“It’s sad to know that it’s my school closing, that I’ll never get to come back here and visit,” said Zarina Archer, a Grade 11 student.

Oland said he plans on establishing the shop program at Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School, where he will teach in the future.

“It’s a personal sadness for me,” he said. “But the memories, the experiences, I carry with me.”

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