Liv­ing his­tory is re­ally hot

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - News

BY TARA MACDON­ALD

Staff “They keep his­tory alive,” said Glen­garry Pi­o­neer Mu­seum vol­un­teer Lise Cléroux dur­ing the third an­nual Smith-In Black­smith Fes­ti­val.

Ms. Cléroux was joined by JeanMarc Les­sard from Saint Donat de Mont­calm, Que­bec. “I love watch­ing the smithing guys. When I was younger, I wanted to do metal work. So when I found out about the event, I had to come.” Mr. Les­sard was not dis­ap­pointed.

Dur­ing the event held Satur­day and Sun­day at the mu­seum in Dun­ve­gan, demon­stra­tions con­tin­ued late into the night with work­shop par­tic­i­pants tak­ing ad­van­tage of the lo­ca­tion.

“I live in the city,” said Grég Singer a far­rier from Sher­brooke. “It’s hard to work long hours be­cause of the noise, so it was won­der­ful to be able to work on my pas­sion late into the night.”

While the fes­ti­val fea­tured a num­ber of ar­ti­sans and crafts ven­dors along with a horse­shoe toss, chil­dren’s ac­tiv­i­ties, and a re­fresh­ment stand, the main pur­pose was to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for black­smiths to come to­gether to share their knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ences.

“There’s no school in Canada that teaches tra­di­tional style black­smithing,” said Mon­k­land black­smith and event co-or­ga­nizer Pa­trick Tay­lor. “We need to ex­change ideas, in­for­ma­tion, tech­niques and skills, that’s why events like this are so im­por­tant. We take our craft se­ri­ously. In or­der to be good at it and to get peo­ple in­ter­ested, we have to pass on the in­for­ma­tion.” Mr. Singer agreed, “I came here for the ex- change. I’m a far­rier but I try to live by demon­stra­tion; to show peo­ple my tech­nique and to learn from oth­ers. These types of events help the ad­vance­ment of all black­smiths and fer­ries. We need to help and to teach each other.”

“I learn through tak­ing these cour­ses,” said work­shop par­tic­i­pant Bob Young from Hamil­ton. “It’s interesting to see the old-time hack­saws that are be­ing made.”

Iin­struc­tors Mike Arm­strong and Me­gan Carter trav­elled from Ge­orge­town to host an an­tiquestyle hack­saw-mak­ing class.

“It’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to come to learn about the trade, about how much work it might be, the tech­niques used,” said Mr. Arm­strong.

“This week­end we had seven folks in the class, and we were mak­ing six hack­saws. It’s been a great week­end, we got a lot done and there are some re­ally nice saws com­ing out of the works.”

Mr. Arm­strong and Ms. Carter met at the Hal­ibur­ton School of the Arts. Af­ter com­plet­ing their stud­ies, the pair com­bined their skills in 2012 to be­come Arm­strong and Carter Iron­works. While based in Ge­orge­town, Mr. Arm­strong says he’s hop­ing to leave the Toronto area for greener pas­tures in Glen­garry.

“The peo­ple are great here and the small events are re­ally nice,” said Mr. Arm­strong. “Last night we went out to Maxville for the pig roast which was a lot of fun.”

While the event drew close to 200 guests, what was truly im­pres­sive was to see how far peo­ple trav­elled to be here.

The work­shops drew par­tici- pants from Québec’s Eastern Town­ships all the way to King City and Hamil­ton, On­tario. Also in at­ten­dance were par­tic­i­pants from Ver­mont, Penn­syl­va­nia and Con­necti­cut.

“This group, they come from all over the place,” said Mike Kennedy a me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer from Ver­mont. “This is a con­nec­tion to the past,” he added. “It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that con­nec­tion. There’s a lot of ef­fort, knowl­edge and hours to get some­thing from a piece of ore to the finished prod­uct.”

Mr. Kennedy was joined by fel­low black­smiths Stephen Mid­kiff from Penn­syl­va­nia and Rich Bostiga from Con­necti­cut. When asked what made this event so spe­cial, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Bostiga lauded the On­tario Artists Black­smith As­so­ci­a­tion (OABA) and mem­bers – such as Mr. Tay­lor, Mr. Arm­strong and Ms. Carter –

Dun­ve­gan Smith-In draws peo­ple from near and far to hone skills, make con­nec­tions

who work hard to share their knowl­edge and bring the com­mu­nity to­gether.

Jus­tine Southam, a stone carver from the Eastern Town­ships, couldn’t agree more. “The OABA has done a great job of ad­vanc­ing the trade and con­nect­ing peo­ple," said Ms. Southam.

“This year’s event brought in a great group of peo­ple from all over to share their knowl­edge and tools. There are not many events where we can get to­gether, es­pe­cially in Eastern On­tario. It’s also great for the folks from Que­bec to meet the On­tario black­smiths.”

de l’Ange-Gar­dien will hit the road for their end-of-year ex­cur­sions. June 14-15, the Grade 6 stu­dents will at­tend “Camp Bon Dé­part.” On the 14th, Grades 2 and 3 will visit the Mu­seum of Na­ture in Ottawa. June 15, the Pre-Kin­der­garten, Kin­der­garten...

TARA MACDON­ALD PHOTOS

METAL WORKS: Mike Arm­strong from Ge­orge­town, On­tario teach­ing Aimie Botelho and Ja­cob Dvores from King City. Above: Pa­trick Tay­lor (left) and Grég Singer work in uni­son.

FUN DAY: Among those at­tend­ing the St. Fin­nan’s Fam­ily Fun Day in Alexan­dria were Deana Brad­ford, from Alexan­dria, Emma-Lynn MacGil­livray, from

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