Posted by: Luc-Étienne Labiche
I am auctioning off a child’s wagon to raise money for the Ottawa Food Bank! Let me tell you all about it.
I am a grade seven student at Trille des Bois public school. During pandemic confinement, my teachers assigned an interesting project to my class. Mme Gratton and Mme Arsenault asked each of us to do a “personal project” involving handiwork and/or social leadership to inspire our virtual community. Manual work is a big part of my school curriculum. In confinement we couldn’t do our usual watercolour painting and woodworking, which we normally do once or twice a week.
I decided to restore my childhood wagon – given to me by my grandparents when I was three – which had been left in rusty and weathered tatters following years of use. One or two winters outside and possibly having been asked to carry too much weight on several occasions, did not help its overall condition. It was in a state of decrepitude. Looking at it made me sad and I was inspired to fix it. I also saw in this ruin an opportunity to raise money for a good cause.
The wagon was from Lee Valley, and was composed of a metal chassis, four pneumatic wheels, a wooden cart with guards, and a metal pull-handle. Each of these components had to be either replaced or repainted. I rebuilt the cart using cedar: this was an improvement over the original’s plywood base. I also repainted the guards and all the metal parts on the chassis, from frame to wheel hubs.
I worked alongside my parents, sometimes on my own and sometimes with their help. I learned many skills throughout this project, including how to be precise and careful, proper body position for every task, organization of tools and materials, and cleaning up as often as possible. I learned about how to paint wood and metal and deepened my understanding about the difference between oil and water-based paints, wood conditioners and varnishes, and about how to use them.
This wagon would have been thrown out if I had not restored it. It is now even sturdier and more attractive than before and I am proud of my work. I would probably not have had the time to complete this project had I been in school all day. COVID-19 has its silver linings! My teachers asked us to keep in mind both handiwork and social leadership. By selling the restored wagon to raise money for the Ottawa Food Bank, I hope that my project will fulfill both goals.
If you wish to participate in the auction, please send an email bid to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 18th at noon.
Originally featured in the July-August 2020 OSCAR.