Thursday 8 June 2023

The Smith-In Blacksmith Festival; Preserving the Tradition of Blacksmithing in Glengarry


Photograph of Pat Taylor and Lloyd Johnson working in the Olivier Hamelin Blacksmith shop, built around the year 1800, at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in 2020.

Enjoy a unique family outing this upcoming Father’s Day weekend at the Smith-In Blacksmith Festival hosted by the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. Explore the displays and museum grounds from Saturday, June 17th to Sunday, June 18th to catch a glimpse into how blacksmiths of the past worked to manipulate iron into many different objects that would be used in pioneers’ everyday lives.

Photograph of Olivier Hamelin at the forge in his blacksmith shop in 1978.

Be sure to visit the Olivier Hamelin blacksmith shop, which primarily operated out of Apple Hill until 1985. In the year 2000, the building was relocated to its current location on the museum grounds. The shop and several other buildings on our grounds house a variety of artefacts that were created by Olivier Hamelin and other pioneer blacksmiths from across the Glengarry area using tools and methods that will be displayed by modern-day blacksmiths traveling in from across Ontario, Quebec, and the United States to appear at this year's festival.

Photograph of John A. Stewart in front of the Dunvegan blacksmith shop (left) ca. 1910. The museum's Star Inn is the building on the right.

 Current visitors, however, may not be aware that the village of Dunvegan once had its own blacksmith shop which stood on what would later become the grounds of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in the late 19th century. The original shop of Dunvegan was built in November of 1894 on the southeast corner of the village crossroads, about where the museum’s heritage gardens are now located. The shop was operated for many years by John. A. Stewart, who is depicted standing to the right of his shop and in front of the Starr Inn as they would have appeared around the year 1910.

Photograph of members of the Glengarry Pipe Band in 1928. John A. Stewart is pictured standing to the far left.

John. A. Stewart was born at Stewarts Glenn (west of the village of Dunvegan) to parents who arrived in Glengarry from the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Hebrides. Apart from blacksmithing, John was an incredibly accomplished piper, and his talent was in high demand at concerts, social events, and Highland dancing and piping competitions across Glengarry as both a piper and a judge. After John passed away in 1950, his brother, Norman Lachlin Stewart, took over the shop until the building was eventually taken down in 1954. We look forward to welcoming all modern-day blacksmiths and curious visitors alike at the Smith-In Blacksmith Festival soon on June 17-18th. While you’re there, we invite you to find the original site of the John. A. Stewart blacksmith shop as you explore the grounds. 

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