Masons: Old, New and Jackie

Blogger's window indicated in white. Masons platform with arrow.
Blogger’s window indicated in white. Masons platform with arrow.

Ah … the peace and serenity of summer. Living next to a grade school and daycare can be noisy. I’m not complaining, kids make noise, I’d be worried if they didn’t. But one of the sure signs that summer has arrived is the lack of idling school buses dropping off little ones for their day of learning. Much to my chagrin this cheery start to my day has been replaced by a major masonry repair job on the school. The sound of cement cutters and jackhammers ring out from seven in the morning until about four in the afternoon.

The school recently marked its centennial. The original building is over one hundred years old, but an addition, including a gymnasium, was stuck on a few years after the completion. It is this addition that is the problem. Two summers ago work was carried out on one wall, now the remaining two walls are being fixed. I’m told the problem is moisture seeping between the layers of bricks.

Like teeth in bad need of braces.
Like teeth in bad need of braces.

The work requires the removal of the outer bricks, this is done by drill and mallet. I assume some sort of moisture barrier will be installed before the bricks are replaced. The inner layer of bricks, now fully exposed, resembles an orthodontist’s dream, something akin to a mouthful of teeth badly in need of braces. I don’t know if these bricks have come to look like this because of the moisture problem, or if they were installed in such a haphazard manner, the mason knowing another row would cover them.

What I do know beyond any doubt is that it is a loud procedure. First they installed platforms that are more like an elevator than scaffolding and are fixed to the wall. Every morning a small but loud vehicle with a hydraulic lift hoists the masons up to the platform. Then the day of drilling and hammering begins in earnest.  I imagine that when the school was originally built masons used ladders to tote hods of bricks up for placement. It must have been dangerous, hard work, but peaceful.


To this masonry symphony, add work being carried out on the roof of my own apartment building and some much needed sidewalk repairs around the corner (yet another cement cutter)  and you have an absolute cacophony. I don’t spend all day in my apartment of course, but on those days when I have been inside for several hours the noise can really get to me. It’s not the decibels, but the constant nature, droning on and on.  A built in alarm clock letting all know when seven o’clock has arrived. Thankfully weekends are not affected.

ant and AA
“It’s such a good fit it’s almost a convulsion”.

Prior to these school house repairs my only experience with masons was one called Jackie as the voice of the Aardvark in the cartoon The Ant and the Aardvark. In one episode the aardvark tries on a costume and, when asked if it fit responds,

But soon the construction vacation will be upon us, the masons can go back to wearing weird rings and having secret meetings,  and with any luck a bit of a respite!!

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+


4 thoughts on “Masons: Old, New and Jackie

  1. I feel your pain. We have lived across from a major Boston hospital and in the middle of The Big Dig. Constant construction — ambulances — dust and dirt. 24/7. That’s how come we live in the country. The city noised and trafficked us to death.

    1. Montreal just built a huge ‘Mega-Hospital’ that combines several institutions. Aside from the sirens and traffic, there is a group of people living about half a mile from the cite who have the constant drone of the heating-ventilation system to contend with.

  2. Ah Westmount! Not quite the Camelot we thought it was.

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