News / Saskatoon

Blacksmithing still popular in Saskatoon at Western Development Museum

An age-old tradition is attracting a sold-out crowd.

The Western Development Museum in Saskatoon offers a blacksmithing course four times a year and there is a wait list for every session.

Sean Garrett, a 28-year-old from Saskatoon, was in the class over the weekend and said it’s satisfying to fire up the forge and shape a piece of heavy metal.

“It’s part of our heritage and it’s just so cool,” said Garrett. “You make something out of nothing.”

He added that this was the only program of its kind offered on a regular basis he could find in the area without having to travel to the United States.

“I was looking online for anywhere that was teaching blacksmithing and the only other place that popped up was in Montana,” said Garrett. “So finding out there was one here was great and convenient.”

And the appeal of getting back in black appears to span generations.

One participant, who inherited a setup of antique equipment from his grandfather, said there has always been a craftsman-like aspect to the trade.

“There wasn’t time or money to have any sort of recreational pursuits, so his blacksmith shop became his rec room,” said Bruce Laing, 59.

“When he wasn’t actually fixing pieces of farm equipment, he would make frivolous things once in a while just to experiment.”

The course began in 1988 and founder Rick Dixon said the WDM’s forges include original parts from the early 20th century, when blacksmiths were still the chief repairmen for the province.

“We’re preserving the process, not just the equipment,” said Dixon.

Education assistant at the WDM, Kristine Flynn, added it's the most popular training course at the museum and available spots often fill up far in advance.

“I’m already telling people they’re going to have to wait for next year,” said Flynn.

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