Repair Café Montreal: workshops to repair everyday objects

The toaster that gets stuck on the burning toast, the coffee machine that no longer responds, the iron that spits out water. After having tried everything to find the problem with these little devices which, one morning, give up on us, what do we do? Should we throw them away? What if, instead, we tried to co-repair them with clever, handy volunteers? This is what Repair Café Montreal’s repair workshops offer.

There is a smell of toast when I show up at a workshop, where around thirty participants are busy around tables strewn with parts and tools. These are citizens who come with an item to repair and are paired with repair volunteers who try to clarify the problem. Suddenly, a bell rings, people applaud and faces light up. Especially that of Hélène who sees her mother-in-law’s toaster working again. What was the problem? “It was covered in crumbs!” She lends herself to the photo game, all smiles, in the company of the two handymen who resurrected her. Plus, she’ll leave with not one, but two toasters. She had brought hers to the last workshop. The diagnosis? A broken piece inside. If the spare parts are not provided by the organizers – they will however tell you which one to change and where to buy it – a volunteer kindly offered to bring the part from home. “They are truly extraordinary,” she comments. And in addition to repairing, they show us how to do it, it’s a great sharing of knowledge.

Courtesy, Repair Café Montreal

The concept of Repair Cafés was born in Amsterdam in 2009. Since then, there have been nearly 3,000 all over the world. The one in Montreal was launched in 2017 and has really grown since 2021, explains the pillar of the organization since almost its beginnings, Gilles Parent. There is a workshop approximately every month, thanks to more and more volunteers involved and to the organization Collectif Solon which lends them space in La Petite-Patrie. Around thirty citizens show up there on average, each time with a defective item: small household appliances, toasters, food processors, lamps, hair dryers, toys. All these everyday objects that have broken down will perhaps have the chance for a second life. Around 60% of the objects brought in are put back into place.

Passionate and dedicated volunteers

If there were only 2-3 volunteers in 2020, today there are 15. These are people who like to tinker and who repair almost everything in their home. This is the case of Gernand, a retired psychologist passionate about repairs. That evening he found the problem on the scale vintage that Sophie had brought and whose quadrant was strangely inverted. He completely dismantled it and put it back together. This isn’t the first time Sophie has come here. She brought a torn duvet, which Serge, a sewing enthusiast in his spare time, sewed up completely. “A real monk’s job,” she confides. She showed up there another time with her Breville coffee machine, the coffee of which was not flowing. “I learned I wasn’t using the right grind!” Gilles, a former aircraft maintenance technician, found the problem with a defective rice cooker that a lady entrusted to him. It was the thermal fuse that needed to be changed. Everyone comes from their own area of ​​expertise.


Sophie with Gernand, who straightened the faulty scale.

Courtesy, Natalie Sicard

Repair Café volunteers are also keen to show participants how to repair and maintain their objects. They would each repair, on average, 4 to 5 objects per workshop. Multiplied by 15, we calculate that nearly 75 objects will not end up in a landfill. And 75 new products will not be purchased. A service well rendered to the planet and a citizen meeting rich in learning which fulfills its mission: learning to no longer throw away objects without trying to repair them!

Repair Café Montréal workshops generally take place once a month and take place most of the time at 6450, avenue Christophe-Colomb. The service is free (but voluntary contributions are welcome to fill the toolboxes!). To find out the dates and the type of objects accepted, visit their site:

www.repaircafemtl.com

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