The Sunday Magazine·the sunday edition

The 'Men's Shed' movement helps older men stave off loneliness

David Gutnick visits The Men's Shed in Winnipeg — a place where several dozen older men regularly get together to drink coffee, play cards and chat. There are no rules, no uniforms and no expectations.
Doug Mackie of the men's shed movement in Manitoba. (David Gutnick/CBC)

This segment originally aired on Jan. 21, 2018.

The first men's shed opened twenty years ago in a borrowed room in the farming town of Tongala, Australia.   

It was an experiment — an attempt at dealing with a growing health crisis. Older men, prone to isolation, despair and depression, have a very high suicide rate. 

Today, there are more than 2,000 Men's Sheds across Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Great Britain. Seventeen in five Canadian provinces.  

In Men's Sheds, there are no rule-books, no funny uniforms, and no expectations. Just a bunch of guys in a bit of the same boat.        

Producer David Gutnick was recently in Winnipeg where he visited the Woodhaven Men's Shed.   

It could hardly be more simple. Every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, a couple of dozen older guys make their way to a room in a Winnipeg community centre.   

The Woodhaven Men's Shed in Winnipeg. (David Gutnick/CBC)
There are folding chairs and tables. A coffee pot, playing cards, a couple of cribbage boards, bundles of dried willow branches and cottonwood bark, a box full of carving knives and paint brushes. 

A bowl of water gets put on the floor for Comet the dog, and a hand-painted sign is taped up on the door for newcomers: Men's Sheds of Manitoba.  

Click 'listen' above to hear David Gutnick's documentary, "I'm Nobody, My Phone Doesn't Ring."