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Hobbyists hobnob at West Shore show
Tinkering and tweaking away at a model ship, Ron Armstrong, a member of the Victoria Model Ship Building Society, gears up to share his passion with anyone who will listen.
“I built my first ship when I was 12 but there was a big gap between the next one with cars, girls, beers and everything else getting in the way,” Armstrong said. He was 33 by the time he build his next ship.
Shipbuilding is something that has remained a steady part of his life and many of his friends in the society have also been building for several decades.
“At 63 I tend to be one of the youngest members,” Armstrong said. “It’s a problem for us. We are aging out and dying off.”
The View Royal shipbuilder speculates the “instant gratification” of computer games is to blame for youngsters shying away from the time-consuming hobby of model shipbuilding.
“Those kids now just hit the button and things happen instantly,” he said.
Over the past several decades Armstrong has completed eight ships. All aspects of the ships he builds are hand-crafted and he finishes them with radio controls.
Armstrong along with other members of the group will set up a pond in the hallway of Westshore Town Centre hoping to pique the interest of youngsters and adults alike for the Hobby Show, Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.
Once a year he pilots his ships at the show and the rest of the time he visits various ponds and lakes, including Langford Lake.
The first ship he ever build was a British Coaster out of yellow cedar. As a young boy he found a book at the old library located on Yates and Blanshard.
“It’s a British book called An Introduction to Model Ships. Britain is the mecca of this hobby,” he explained. “That ship, she had a sad demise, she sprang a leak and owner of B.C. Hobbies and Crafts said he’d fix her, but the shop caught fire and burned down.”
Now he likes ship building to help preserve nautical history.
“It’s difficult and expensive to save ships. If they are wooden they rot, if they are made of steel they rust. For all boats condensation is the biggest enemy,” he said. “I replicate these ships so they are not forgotten.”
Along with the model shipbuilders, 14 other clubs and societies will showcase their hobbies and talents including Lego building, model trains and the Victoria Lapidary and Mineral Society.
“We are going to be demonstrating cutting and polishing stones,” said club president Michael Hill, adding local stones found through rockhounding including dallasite and rhodonite will be on display.
“(This show is) really, really fun and a good way to see what’s available to you on the West Shore and in Greater Victoria,” said Sandra Doris, marketing manager of Westshore Town Centre. “You can also meet other people in your community with the same interests at you.”
The hobby show has been a West Shore tradition for about 15 years. It runs during mall hours at Westshore Town Centre, 2945 Jacklin Rd. Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.