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Find your space: Our guide to Western Canada’s makerspaces

July 19, 2016 |

Whether you call them a makerspace, hackerspace or a fabrication lab, cities across Western Canada have the communities, tools and infrastructure to help bring your ideas to life. These collaborative zones all feature tech-minded tinkerers, artists working in all mediums and entrepreneurs eager to help you get your project or startup off the ground.

Here’s where the maker communities in Western Canada go to work:

Victoria Makerspace – 4476 Markham St, Saanich, BC
makerspace.ca

Found in the Vancouver Island Technology Park, the Victoria Makerspace serves as the island’s fabrication lab with electronic equipment, 3D printers, and metal and woodworking tools.

The Makerspace also functions as a biology lab and can be used for science fair projects and other biology activities. They have members genetically identifying mushrooms, starting tissue culture starts for plants, interrogating their genome, and much more. It’s a biosafety level 1 lab, meaning you won’t find any organisms there that pose a risk to human health or environmental release.

They’re also gauging interest for creating a dedicated virtual reality space in their building and are inviting people to join the discussion by emailing derekja@makerspace.ca. Use the member forum page here to ask questions or to help Makerspace acquire any equipment they might not already have.

The best way to get involved is to any open house held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 7 to 9 p.m. where new memberships can be processed.

victoria makerspace

Vancouver Hackspace – 104-1715 Cook St Vancouver, BC
hackspace.ca

Billed as “the community garage for a community without garages”, the Vancouver Hackspace is a space for people can gather to share ideas, equipment, opinions, and beer.

The VHS began in 2008 in their original location off Hastings Street, with a back-alley entrance where members were thrown a key on a string from a window to enter. The new space on Cook St. is a little more spacious, with enough room for a car to be driven in and worked on. Some projects to come out of the VHS include remote-controlled helicopters, a vintage arcade game cabinet that runs 100 vintage games and a robot that can draw viagra in wien kaufen. Members are now working on plans to build a near space balloon to ascend between 20 and 100 kilometre above the earth.

Two kickstarters in the works from VHS members include TetraGear, a multi-use safety light for wheelchair or bicycle users, and Grip Graphique, a service that makes custom grip tape for skateboards.

Tuesdays evenings are their dedicated open house time but they note that most nights will have someone available to show you around.

vancouver hackspace

Edmonton New Technology Society – 6740-121 Avenue NW
ents.ca

Since 2009, the Edmonton New Technology Society (ENTS) has catered to tech enthusiasts and hobbyists as a non-profit, member-driven group open to anyone to create, build, repair and work on projects.

ENTS started life in 2009 after the Edmonton hacker community and a group of tech enthusiasts got together to open the Edmonton Hackerspace, first known as YEGSpace. The collective first met in pubs throughout the city and the group quickly grew large enough to need an established meeting space. This need for a space drove the group to formalize as the Edmonton New Technology Society.

Once incorporated, ENTS first set up in an old clothing factory in Queen Mary Park in Downtown Edmonton and in January 2012 they moved to their current location at 121 Avenue West. Also in the Queen Mary Park neighbourhood, the new space features garages which helped increase the types of projects suitable.

With more space, ENTS recognized that rooms were being underutilized and the organisation opened their doors to other Edmonton non-profit groups to host events and meetings at no cost. This outreach program has given them a chance to interact and collaborate with groups who otherwise would not be exposed to them.

Their tools and equipment are organized into an electronics lab space, general use, a metal shop, printing tools and a wood shop and HackTuesdays from 6 -10:00 p.m. is your chance to check it out.

edmonton

Protospace (Calgary) – Bay 108-110, 1530 27th Avenue NE
protospace.ca

Found in the industrial sector east of the Barlow Trail, Protospace Ltd. is Calgary’s local hackerspace. The community-based, member-driven organization offers access to workshop space, education on tools and introductions to the maker community. As a non-profit, Protospace is dedicated to technical innovation and collaborative projects and the only prerequisite for members is curiosity, according to their website.

The space occupies 6500 square feet, including two 2000 square foot warehouse bays, with with general work space, offices and support areas. Although they’re admittedly not in a pedestrian-friendly area, they’ve organized a loose car pool system and encourage members to give others a lift home in addition to providing transit information on their website.

Protospace has also found a way to mobilize their network to help the greater community in times of emergency. In the wake of Calgary’s 2013 flood they helped local flood victims recover and repair their damaged electronic devices, setting up three ‘Repair Cafes’ throughout town where their volunteers helped get cell phones, computers, stereos, and other waterlogged electronics back in operation.

Protospace also maintains a wiki page with a list of tools, links to 360º tours of the facilities and information on where members can source equipment and materials.

Some of the more playful items to come out of Protospace include a model Tardis from the science-fiction series Doctor Who, complete with lights and sounds, and a scale replica of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Use their events page to find upcoming programming or drop in for their Meet and Geek open house every Tuesday from 7-10 p.m.

calgary

Saskatoon TechWorks – 509 Gray Ave
sktechworks.ca

Saskatoon TechWorks Inc. is a makerspace with a focus on science, technology, culture, mechanics and the digital arts.

First proposed in 2010 by Calgary expat Paul Chavady, TechWorks raised enough capital to become incorporated in mid-2011 and they moved into their first location in the basement of a building Riversdale neighbourhood.

Now located in the Sutherland neighbourhood, the new space features two 3-D printers, a MakerBot Replicator 2, a member-built CNC router in workshop area, two laser cutters and more. You can tour the space on YouTube here.

With a motto of “Learn, Make, Share”, TechWorks describes itself space for people from diverse backgrounds to socialize, collaborate and learn. They also operate as a community resource for hosting workshops on electronics, programming, crafts, and whatever other skills that members (or guests) are willing to share.

Use their wiki page here to see their full equipment inventory or their forum post questions to members and view meeting agendas and minutes.

Hack Night is hosted every Tuesday for members of the public to drop in and learn more about Techworks.

Saskatoon techworks

North Forge Fabrication Lab (Winnipeg) – 3rd Floor 125 Adelaide, Winnipeg, MB
northforge.ca

The Fabrication Lab – the largest of its kind in North America– operates out of the third floor of a warehouse in the city’s Exchange District. It is the go-to prototyping space for many of the city’s startups including TrapTap, Solara Remote Data Delivery and Lift Innovations.

Formerly known as AssentWorks, the organization became the North Forge Fabrication Lab earlier this year. As part of Winnipeg’s startup and tech-driven Innovation Alley neighbourhood, the North Forge Fabrication Lab offers use of digital fabrication and prototyping equipment with support from the entrepreneurial and innovation communities.

Equipment and service options are steadily growing with 3D printing equipment, embedded systems designers, woodworking, metalworking and plastics forming tools.

The North Forge Fabrication Lab offers weekly training sessions on a dedicated member council who are all working to increase access to affordable prototyping.

Use their Meetups page to view all upcoming programming and tour information, or participate in the message board and view photos.

north forge

Makerspace tour

Planning a road trip across the Western provinces? Use the Canadian Maker Passport to check in to all the makerspaces here!

thingtanklab.com

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