Hal­ibur­ton heats up

Canadian Geographic - - GATEWAY - —Alexan­dra Pope

IT’S 32 DE­GREES un­der murky skies when my hus­band and I step out of our car in front of Artech Glass Blow­ing Studios in tiny Tory Hill, Ont., three hours north­east of Toronto, yet even this scorcher of a sum­mer day could not have pre­pared us for what awaits in­side glass­blower Terry Craig’s work­shop. The fur­nace must burn at 1,150 de­grees Cel­sius to keep glass molten for blow­ing; even stand­ing two me­tres back, the heat thrown from its glow­ing maw is al­most un­bear­able. I’d promised my hus­band a hot date in the Hal­ibur­ton High­lands, but I’m not sure he re­al­ized I was be­ing lit­eral. Craig guides us through the process of cre­at­ing a few trea­sures — pa­per­weights shot through with swirls of colour, lu­mi­nous glass balls, a tiny whisky tum­bler (Craig is a Scotch devo­tee). We take turns gath­er­ing glass from the bot­tom of the fur­nace with the long blow­pipe, our bare arms sting­ing as if we’ve been sun­burned. Mostly we watch Craig work, en­tranced by the alchemy of shap­ing liq­uid fire into solid mat­ter. Artech, run by Craig and his wife Jen­nifer Wan­less-craig, is a bona fide small-town suc­cess story. Their chic table­ware, made of re­cy­cled beer and wine bot­tles and em­bla­zoned with cheeky say­ings, re­tails in more than 200 stores world­wide and was in­cluded in the swag bags for the 2015 Emmy Awards. The duo are of­ten on the road for trade and craft shows, yet in spite of their busy sched­ule, they still set aside se­lect week­ends to host pri­vate small­group work­shops like this one for vis­i­tors to the area, or­ga­nized by lo­cal tour op­er­a­tor Yours Out­doors. This pride of place is ev­i­dent through­out Hal­ibur­ton County — bet­ter known as the Hal­ibur­ton High­lands — a 4,000-square-kilo­me­tre quasi-wilder­ness re­gion of lakes, rivers and forests punc­tu­ated by small com­mu­ni­ties that are havens for artists and free spir­its. Ev­ery busi­ness is a small busi­ness; ev­ery­one knows and sup­ports ev­ery­one else. Our guide for the Canopy Tour at Hal­ibur­ton For­est and Wild Life Re­serve turns out to be part of a group in­clud­ing Craig that meets for reg­u­lar Scotch tast­ings. When my hus­band for­gets his san­dals at the bed and break­fast, the owner tracks us down at a roadside bar­be­cue joint 30 min­utes away to re­turn them. By the end of the week­end, we feel as though we’ve been com­ing back to the high­lands ev­ery sum­mer for years — and we un­der­stand why so many from the city do. Now that’s cool.

Terry Craig shapes molten glass into a pa­per­weight at his glass-blow­ing stu­dio in Tory Hill, in On­tario’s Hal­ibur­ton High­lands.

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