It’s a journey that takes three years and one day, but most who do it say it was the best years of their lives.
“Everybody who does the journey says it was the best time of their lives. I can say the same. It took me to Canada, South America and Scandinavia,” said Martin Haemmerling, a member of the Travelling Carpenters Guild.
All members of the guild, which has been around since the 12 century, must take the traditional journey.
Haemmerling found Golden on his journey in 2005, and decided to settle here two years ago. And on Saturday Aug. 4, he made Golden an official meeting point for travelling carpenters.
Around 25 carpenters, you may have seen them around town in their traditional garb, came to the Mad Trapper to mark the occasion.
“Now travelling carpenters can come to Golden, to the meeting point, say hello, and see if there’s maybe some work,” said Haemmerling.
“If someone is coming through Golden, we’ll try to give them a place to stay, something to eat, and if he’s looking for work we’ll try to help him with that too.”
There are meeting points all over the world, helping carpenters complete their long journey.
The strict guidelines insist that they travel for three years and one day, stay outside the 50 kilometre circle around their hometown, and remain in one place no longer than six months.
“The clothes are really traditional. If you’re travelling around, people will recognize the clothes and know you’re a travelling carpenter,” said Haemmerling. Carpenters are required to wear the outfit at all times during their journey.
It consists of black bellbottom pants, a white shirt, a black vest with eight buttons (symbolizing an eight-hour workday), a black tie, a jacket with six buttons (symbolizing a six-day workweek), and a hat, which is the sign of a free man.
“I was travelling in Columbia and somebody recognized my outfit, so that’s the reason I got work. He offered me a job,” said Haemmerling.
The guild is also very strict about the way the carpenters work while they are on their journey. They must work as a local would, which means working for the same wage.
“If they are here and working, it is important that they work like a local. They charge the same money. Some people think that the travelling carpenters come here, spend all their time at the bar, and then work for $10 an hour taking work away from locals. It’s not like that,” said Haemmerling. “They’re not trying to steal work. They’re on the journey to learn about the profession.”
Everyone goes on the journey for different reasons, and some return home, some don’t. Haemmerling is very happy he found Golden, and is currently working on becoming a permanent resident.