Introducing the Fixer’s Apprentice

The Repair Café team returned to one of our favourite locations, Central Neighbourhood House, on Saturday, February 24. We were welcomed by many visitors from the neighbourhood who were already lining up before we were open. We had a great turnout of volunteers and visitors, thanks to the wonderful support of the Centre’s staff and volunteers!

One of our key goals at Repair Café is to help people learn how to repair broken household items themselves. We have set up an apprentice system where an apprentice fixer shadows an experienced fixer to gain hands-on experience on the repair process from trouble-shooting to fixing. This time, some of our apprentice fixers shared with us their thoughts about their learning experience. They spoke to our photographer, Julie, below.

Photograph: Apprentice fixer Hale (right) fixing a jacket zipper with fixer Ed

Interview with apprentice fixer Hale:

Julie: What do you enjoy about fixing?

Hale: We come together with many minds, and it’s collective work. Seeing things fixed makes us happy.

Julie: What have you learned as an apprentice?

Hale: In the beginning, I knew very little about household items. In my old workplace, we had to fix our equipment from time to time. That’s why I was interested in being an apprentice. I learned a lot about soldering and problem solving. The work I do here is helping a lot with (my job) interviews.

Julie: What have you learned to fix today?

Hale: I learned about finding the misconnections in lamps, for example broken fuses and wiring.

Julie: What do you like about your mentor fixer(s)?

Hale: Ed, Andre and Dave helped me a lot. They’re all really helpful and they have their different expertise in different areas — Andre is good with electronics, Dave mechanics, and Ed is a very good teacher.

Interview with apprentice fixer Anton:

Julie: What do you enjoy about fixing?

Anton: It’s a great way to understand a problem and getting the right tools to fix it.

Julie: How did you find the apprentice experience?

Anton: I thought it was a a wonderful place to be and it’s very positive and outgoing.

Julie: What have you learned to fix today?

Anton: I learned how to properly thread a needle, which is a useful skill as I am going to college coming year.

Julie: What do you like about your mentor fixer?

Anton: Liz is very wise, open and nice about her teachings.

Photograph: Apprentice fixer Thomas (right) assisting fixer Tom on a kettle

Interview with apprentice fixer Thomas:

Julie: What do you enjoy about fixing?

Thomas: I’m really great at taking things apart and I came here to learn how to put things back together.

Julie: What do you like about your mentor fixer?

Thomas: Tom knows his stuff. If Tom can do it, so can I.

Interview with apprentice fixer Melba:

Julie: What do you enjoy about fixing?

Melba: I enjoy everything and I want to learn many things. I want to learn everything. I think I’m born to fix and be a fixer. I’ve been learning through my years on my own to fix things.

Julie: How do you find the apprenticeship?

Melba: I find the atmosphere beautiful.

Julie: What have you learnt to fix today?

Melba: I learnt how to knit with the needle and thread to fix two holes in a sweater.

We would like to thank our fixers who have been generously sharing their expertise and mentoring the apprentices!

Repair Café has a growing volunteer team. If you are interested in joining our team to become a fixer, an apprentice fixer, or a general volunteer, please visit the Volunteer page. Of course you are also welcome to join one of our cafes as a visitor.

Our next café will be held at the Toronto Public Library Cedarbrae Branch. For details, visit the Upcoming Events page.

Hope to see you at the Repair Café soon!

Photographs by Julie Trinh, Lon Appleby, Wai Chu Cheng