‘If there hadn’t been blacksmiths there wouldn’t be welders today’
Blacksmiths from around the world gather for CanIRON X in Baddeck
The marvels of a hand-crafted forge were celebrated as hot coals were sparked in advance of a new creation from molten metal on the grounds of the Inverary Inn on Friday.
A simple leaf design was the objective in this instance — just a small example of a blacksmith’s skills for the sake of media in attendance, as J.P. Paradis worked from Ian Hope Simpson’s forge that other observing blacksmiths agreed was quite inventive.
However, more elaborate and inventive creations were born or conceptualized in Baddeck and great secrets of the ancient trade were shared during three days of CanIRON X, Canada’s 10th national blacksmithing festival.
“If there hadn’t been blacksmiths there wouldn’t be welders today,” said Paradis, a Halifax welder who practises the art of blacksmithing as a hobby. “It is still there, blacksmithing, but it is more ornamental and a little bit architectural.”
Ironically, as progress has lessened the need for blacksmithing, the age of the Internet has brought the community of those who still practise the art closer together and has helped it to grow.
“It’s a pretty sharing community for the most part, globally,” said Grant Haverstock, a blacksmith and the event organizer. “Especially with the advent of social media and the Internet. That really was a complete real boost for blacksmithing be- cause now we all keep in touch.”
Technology was not necessary to bring the close-knit community even closer this weekend in Baddeck. Just a fire in a forge was all that was needed to attract a crowd of like-minded hobbyists more than willing to chat about their love of the trade. That was exactly the case as Paradis gave his early morning demonstration.
“Find me a guy or gal anywhere that doesn’t like to sit around a fire,” said Haverstock. “It’s prehistoric. Who doesn’t like to have a beer and poke a fire?”
Beyond the social aspects of the weekend, knowledge was shared. Most popular was the presentation by internationally renowned metal artist Albert Haley whose Friday morning presentation prompted the rescheduling of all other activities that morning so that most everyone could listen.
Other well-known names in the metal world included Zeevik Gottlief of Israel, California’s Mark Aspery, Illionois’ Lorelie Simms and others.
“If I could do one thing with this event, it would be to educate the populace on how pertinent an art form this really is and how much it contributes to local economies everywhere,” said Haverstock. “The proof is in the pudding. Look at the registrants — Israel, Germany, Switzerland, France and all over the states.”
There were 200 in attendance on Friday and Haverstock expected anywhere from 100-200 more to attend on Saturday and Sunday.
As for economic impact, he’s still collecting information from attendees, including where they are from and how long they are staying.
He expects the information to prove useful should the local blacksmith community decide to host another event.
Blacksmith demonstrations, lectures, youth programs and hands-on learning are all on the schedule. Visit canironx.ca for more information.
Reddening coals from a forge at CanIRONX are ready for use by one of the many blacksmiths in Baddeck for the conference.
Cape Breton blacksmith Grant Haverstock readies a forge for a blacksmith demonstration. Haverstock is one of the organizers of CanIRON X in Baddeck.
J.P. Paradis of Halifax creates a leaf out of metal during a demonstration of blacksmithing at CanIRON X on Friday in Baddeck. Several hundred blacksmiths from around the world travelled to take part in Canada’s 10th national blacksmith festival.
Hell Bay Brewing Co. bottled an Irish beer specifically for CanIRONX. Sydney native Mark Bailey is shown pouring a glass.