January 17th, 2021

Lethbridge bricklayers again solid at Regionals

By Woodard, Dale on October 14, 2020.

Doug Veldman (left) lays down bricks while brother Daniel brings in more supplies at the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 Regional Series recently in Calgary. The brothers won their second Regional championship in a row. If the borders are open by then, the World Championship will take place in January in Las Vegas. Submitted photo

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

All in all, it was more than just another brick in the wall for Doug and Daniel Veldman of Lethbridge.

In fact, it was several and it set the foundation for the brothers’ second regional bricklaying title in as many years and could very well send them back to the World Stage for a second time.

Doug and Daniel were in Calgary for the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 Regional Series recently, where they successfully defended their 2019 title in a field of five teams with a dazzling display of masonry skills.

And if COVID-19 pandemic protocols ease up by January and allow the borders to reopen, the brother combo will head back to Las Vegas for the World Championship.

Whether international travel is in their immediate future or not, another brick-laying team effort stacked up a second title of Alberta’s best bricklayers for the owners of Veldman Masonry as five teams of masons and tenders tested their craftsmanship at the Calgary event.

“You get two hours to do your set up,” said Doug, a mason of 14 years who started working for his dad when he was 16. “You lay two courses of blocks about eight inches high and then you get to lay one course of bricks on top of that. You get two hours to do that and when the actual competition starts you start on top of that, so all of your bonding and everything is all worked out already. It’s actually two layers of bricks beside each other and you are only allowed to work on one side of the wall, so the back side you have to lay overhand. Laying the back is a little bit slower than the front. Usually it ends up being a four or five feet tall by the end.”

With Daniel setting up the bricks and Doug laying them down, the brothers put up a roughly five-foot wall of 730 bricks.

“Then they take off deductions, like a tipped brick,” said Doug, on the phone and on the job from a rooftop in Enchant. “If you have a brick that’s tipped then they take 25 bricks off of your count, so then you get 705 with one of those. If you put a brick in backwards so the label is showing out, that’s a 50-brick deduction. So that’s why Danny needs to lay out the bricks in a way, because I don’t even have time to look at them, I just have to grab them and lay them out, especially on the back side. He has to make sure they’re all labelled, otherwise I’ll lay them backwards.

“He’s not allowed to touch any of the tools or anything like that, but he can point out things. He’s just kind of my eyes.”

That kind of teamwork takes a lot of practice.

“We have our business shop and we have a set up that we practise on,” said Doug. “When I went to Las Vegas last year I practised every night for the last month before it.”

It almost paid off at the World Championship in February, when Doug and Daniel placed sixth out of 26 teams.

“It wasn’t too bad for my first time,” said Doug. “I ended up laying the most bricks out of everybody in Vegas, but I had a couple of deductions that cost me.”

Doug and Daniel now play the waiting game with the pandemic and hope international travel resumes in the New Year.

“The main guy from Calgary who runs it all said it’s on right now, but it’s not guaranteed,” said Doug. “There’s a good chance it’s still going to happen.”

If they make it back, Doug hopes to once again put down the most bricks, but minus the deductions that proved costly last time.

Not only would that earn the brothers a Supermason world title, but also over $65,000 in cash and prizes and a new Ford 250 4×4 truck.

“I’m hoping to get first this time. I laid the most last year, so I’m hoping to get even faster and try to keep them straight as well.”

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