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February 3, 2016 | John Swarbrick

What do you hope to "get" from your choice in a contractor...

Getting to the “get”…..
It appears at times, as a society, we sure are getting pretty good at “Goal Setting.” The number of folks jamming themselves into the gyms in the New Year and the number of invasive on-line advertisements for quick weight loss gimmicks, powders and contraptions is almost overwhelming. Clearly the resultant boom in items placed on Kijiji in the next few months will be a solemn testament to that fact.

The same can be said of renovation or remodelling dreams. Be it a major addition or a small powder room. often we can quickly fall short... Read More
December 12, 2015 | John Swarbrick

Coffee Beans and TOAST!



Settlement Co. in Waterloo Ontario is an ultra cool new coffee shop/bistro/ bakery that has opened up in our thriving downtown core. Now as a cyclist, coffee is basically a kind of fuel of necessity, as a contractor – a fuel of necessity…as a business owner – a fuel of…well, I am sure you get the point by now!

As most people realize, in our ever increasing society of convenience, if it hasn’t got a “drive-through” there is a large component of society that is not interested…..

Well, GOOD! There will be more room at this place for me... Read More
July 8, 2015 | John Swarbrick

The Needle and the Damage Done....

I had the most incredible experience the other day.

My kid has always had an interest in “Classic Rock” and, what I would otherwise categorize as, exceptional musical taste. Anyways, for some reason or other, quite possibly to avoid studying for exams, he asked if he could accompany my wife to meet me for coffee at a local purveyor of “The Bean” called Death Valley’s Little Brother in Waterloo, ON. After we had swilled some of the finest java the county has to offer, he was, under strict instructions from his mother, my enduringly patient wife, to go straight... Read More
June 25, 2015 | John Swarbrick

Peeing in Pools and Other Dangerous Trends...

When my twins, Graham and Claire were just small, we used to take them to this “Tot’s and Mom’s” swim session at the Waterloo Swimplex, in the town we live in. Notwithstanding the nowadays offensive exclusionary title of the swim session, it was a fun time. Even though I was…clearly…a Dad…I was allowed to wade into the luke warm waters with my fellow “Parental Units” and enjoy a swimming lesson with the kids and my wife, Anne, who is – obviously a woman, and hence was not worried about any type of shunning….anyway, this... Read More
June 10, 2015 | John Swarbrick

The Opportunity to "Build with Soul"

I built a cross once. It was for a local Catholic Elementary School. I can’t even remember why I was asked to build it or how the conversation came to me? I mean, it is not everyday that someone asks you to build an eight foot tall cross for their school. I used this amazing Sequoia from wine staves from huge wine kegs, salvaged from a winery in London, Ontario. The wood in the main body of the cross was several hundred years old and absolutely some of the finest wood I had ever taken chisel to. It was HUGE and the entire shop was filled with the most wonderful aroma of red wine. Inset... Read More
May 12, 2015 | John Swarbrick

Ooh La La!

Poor young... Read More

May 2, 2015 | John Swarbrick

Put Down the Remote and Grab your "Dads" Toolbox!



When I was a kid, I built stuff.

If you have been....lucky enough to read my blog from the start, you already know, it was mostly boats that did NOT float, but lets not go there right now. I built stuff, my neighbors built stuff, all my friends built stuff. Some of it good, and some of it dismal, but, we built it anyway. The experience led both to cuts and bruises, nicks and sutures but it was also one that borne in us a fundamental understanding of how "stuff" worked and a reasonable notion of how to fix it when it broke.

Now, I know what all of you are saying, "Pffft, oh ya, big... Read More
April 26, 2015 | John Swarbrick

We Share Water....

We live in a world where our connections are seemingly growing harder to find and certainly easier and easier to lose. It is because of this that it is even more important than ever to make connections, in any way we can to people outside of our immediate daily focus.

When I am not being a husband, dad, teacher, and contractor, I am a cyclist. I ride with a group of cyclists out of Waterloo, a group I was welcomed into a few years back. I also train for an event that is near and dear to my heart called the “Tour for Kids,” for which, 100% of the money raised goes directly... Read More
April 19, 2015 | John Swarbrick

I'm Late, I'm Late...for a very important date!



We own a 1974 VW Westfalia Bus. It is slow, it stalls and it is generally unsafe by todays "bubble wrapped" air bags, traction control-so you can drive like a nutter in the snow and ice standards. It's name is "Olive" by the way.

I still have mixed feelings about this, but, my 17 year old son, LOVES driving it on sunny afternoons on the weekend. His 17 year old twin sister, luckily, seems to have a better..."appreciation" for it's limitations, lets just say. He loves the nostalgia, he loves the feel, the smell the sounds and the experience that driving the bus brings. He loves, not what... Read More
April 11, 2015 | John Swarbrick

"Teach your children well..."

This week I went to “Talk to the Kids.” And by kids, I mean, students at the Waterloo campus of Conestoga College in the Renovation Technician Program.

I was invited by their instructor Mr. Steve Doherty who was gracious enough to reach out and invite me to this awesome opportunity. At first I wasn’t sure if I could find the time, but let me tell you I am darned glad I did! The experience was positively wonderful. The value of education, to me, is priceless and supporting new trades is of paramount importance. Not one year has gone by since 1995 that JWS Woodworking and... Read More
April 3, 2015 | John Swarbrick

"Like Money for Old Rope"



The other day I was sitting listening to presentations by my students, with rapt attention I might add, when I looked down at my hands to a sort of shocking revelation. I have my fathers hands! It was as if I noticed for the first time and the impact of this revelation was both moving and strange at the same time. I actually gasped? I am sure the students thought the tears in my eyes were the result of pride in their performance - so, I guess I killed the proverbial "two birds with one stone."

I guess I should back up a little here. My father passed away some years ago now, and for any... Read More
March 28, 2015 | John Swarbrick

Back to School...Back to School....To show our Clients we're no Fools...

I know it sounds weird, but, I like to ride on back country roads – in the WINTER, in this crazy town we call Canada! It is cold and crazy but I love it and it is where MOST of my good ideas come from. One of those ideas this past season of riding was the idea of ditching our long standing presence at the local Home and Garden Show in lieu of a process that would cater even more to our clients needs by looking after our team first, the idea was to have…a “Deck Training Day!”

I had this thought, that if we could somehow orient all of our current installers to all of... Read More

Latest Blogs

December 12, 2015 | John Swarbrick

Coffee Beans and TOAST!

July 8, 2015 | John Swarbrick

The Needle and the Damage Done....

June 25, 2015 | John Swarbrick

Peeing in Pools and Other Dangerous Trends...

June 10, 2015 | John Swarbrick

The Opportunity to "Build with Soul"

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