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Thursday, September 28, 2023
Old Town gateway on track for August completion
This month’s oscillating weather – from heavy rainfall to record-breaking heatwaves – hasn’t slowed the gateway project’s dry stone mason down. “There could be a flood here and it wouldn’t impact anything,” Menno Braam said. Dave Van De Laar

An unseasonably wet August has been a bit of a problem for dry stone mason Menno Braam, but not so much for the wall he’s building.

The veteran mason started working on Niagara-on-the-Lake’s new drystone gateway wall at the entrance to Old Town this spring and set himself a completion deadline of the end of August.

He said the project is coming along without too many hiccups, but he’s starting to pick up extra hours after missing the odd day due to rain and record-breaking heatwaves. 

Though he’s lost a few days, the rain poses no threat to his progress.

“There could be a flood here and it wouldn’t impact anything,” he said. 

The wall’s archway centrepiece is mostly complete. 

Though such a dry stone archway might look a little less stable to the untrained eye, he said it will rely on the same physics as the rest of the wall. 

The biggest challenge, he said was figuring out how to mount the town’s coat of arms to the circular face without compromising the overall look and feel of the design.

Rather than laying his stones in a circular shape, he followed the same solid pattern as the rest of the structure and cut a round, shallow recess into the wall. 

When complete, the coat of arms will sit snuggly into the circular-shaped setback. 

When The Lake Report stopped by last Friday, two metal workers were affixing the town’s name, in steel lettering, to the new wall.

Darren Huinink runs a small welding and metal cutting business called Dark Metalworks out of Hamilton. 

He was cutting the letters with his colleague Dayton Koning, who works for Unity Construction.

Koning said he’s drawn to projects like this one because much of what he does on other projects gets lost over time.

“In the trades, there’s lots of work that you do that doesn’t necessarily get seen.”

Projects like these, however, survive their makers.

“People will get to appreciate it after we’re gone, hopefully,” he said. 

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