HomeTown – 09 – Smithy

HomeTown - 09 - Smithy
Today Waldie’s Blacksmith Shop stands functioning and restored, but that wasn’t how I first remember the place.
Crown Graphic – Kodak Ektar 203mm f:7.7 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-64 – Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 8:00 @ 20C

I can probably trace my curiosity to peer behind the board up windows to Waldie’s Blacksmith shop. For much of my life, the building sat empty and abandoned. Sitting next to St. Paul’s United Church. But I also didn’t know the rich history behind the building that had captured that curiosity. James A. Waldie came to Canada taking over a business in Acton first before establishing his shop in Milton in 1865. The shop’s operations peaked in the 1890s when it operated around the clock employing five blacksmiths, two woodworkers, a painter, and a trimmer. After the death of James Senior in 1900, his son James Jr. took over his father’s business, and his son Alfred continued the family business starting in 1948 after his father’s death. But the need for a blacksmith in a town didn’t survive much past the mid-century, and the shop closed in 1970. Alfred would pass away in 1980. The shop sat empty for nearly three decades before efforts by the Waldie Family (who are active members of my home church and the Milton Historical Society) began restoration efforts in the late 1990s. Restoration and Fundraising continued into the 21st century. Today, the blacksmith shop serves a dual role, one as a functioning blacksmith shop which both manufactures and teaches the art. It also is the headquarters for the Milton historical society whose tireless work preserved many of Milton’s historical buildings which I will continue to feature in this project in the coming posts. Honestly, I nearly went to my default for photographing the shop, a head-on image of the shop. But instead, I went and put the building on a slight angle to catch a bit of the side of the shop and the beautiful sign. And did you know, the shop has never been moved and is a rare example of a blacksmith still in its original place in a Canadian community!

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