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100 Mile House welder brings home gold from Skills Canada

Cole Allan came in first place at nationals in Quebec City

100 Mile House native Cole Allan brought home gold for British Columbia at this year's Skills Canada competition. 

Allan, a journeyman welder and a level two heavy-duty mechanic, has been studying at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops for the last two years. Competing in Skills Canada this year and last year has inspired a passion for welding in him. 

"Growing up and even until recently I always looked at welding as just a career and a way to make money, but competing and training has turned it into more of a passion for me," Allan said. "You are always trying to do better and beat yourself, and there is always something that can be done better when you're chasing perfection."

Growing up in 100 Mile House, Allan spent most of his teenage years playing hockey in the winter and racing dirt bikes in the summer. Throughout his formative years, he also took every opportunity he could to work with his dad Troy Allan, who was working as a lowbed truck driver. 

Whenever he worked with his dad Allan said he would show him how to run the logging equipment he was working with. Eventually, after several years of riding along, he got his own job with the company and got a pre-apprenticeship with their mechanic Jim Malm as a heavy-duty mechanic. 

"(Jim Malm) was a heavy-duty mechanic and a welder, running his own truck. He helped guide me down the right path with the two trades and taught me lots," Allan recalled. "During my apprenticeship I rode around with him for about a year and a half, working in the bush on equipment and welding when I got the chance."

When it came time to go to post-secondary, Allan decided to attend TRU's trade school and joined the welding course because it was the only one that had openings. It wasn't until his second year of welding school that his instructor approached him and suggested he consider competing in Skills Canada. 

In 2023 Allan competed for the first time taking home gold at provincials and travelling to Winnipeg to compete in nationals. There he won bronze and decided to give it a second go this year and put some more time into preparing. 

"I came back to school for my final year of welding in the fall of 2023, and once I finished the course, I stayed in the shop full-time for practice." 

Allan explained that Skills Canada competitions begin with regionals at TRU before moving on to provincials and then nationals. Only those who win move on to the next level with only 10 welders, one from each province, competing at the national level. This year they were hosted in Quebec City. 

The competition itself sees contestants tasked with creating three projects from blueprints and steel provided. This includes welding a steel pressure vessel, an aluminium TIG project and a stainless steel TIG project. 

"The vessel can consist of up to five different welding processes and is pressured to 1000psi. The marking criteria is very strict, most times not allowing any room for error," Allan remarked. "We are given the blueprints and a pile of steel and are on our own from there." 

When Allan learned that he had won gold this year he said he felt honoured to represent BC, TRU and 100 Mile House on a national level. He further noted that bringing home the gold makes all the hard work he and his instructor have put into his welding payoff in a great way. 

"The support I have received from my family and instructors at TRU and different sponsors around Kamloops has been incredible," Allan said. "I am grateful to those who gave me the chance when I was younger to prove myself and point me in the right direction in the trades. Overall, Skills Canada has been an amazing experience, I never imagined welding taking me this far." 

While nationals are as far as he goes this year, Allan is already thinking ahead to next year. In 2025 the winner of the national competition will go on to the world competition which will be held in Shanghai, China. Allan said he intends to train hard and see if he can make it and compete on a national level. 

Outside of Skills Canada, Allan said he hopes to move back to 100 Mile House in the next few years and settle down. 

"For my future career, I hope to still be working for myself doing some tig welding and just a variety of different welding and mechanical jobs."

Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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