‘If there hadn’t been black­smiths there wouldn’t be welders to­day’

Black­smiths from around the world gather for CanIRON X in Baddeck

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY GREG MCNEIL

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.

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