This October, blacksmiths from all over the Maritimes will be traveling back to a time when their services were a hot commodity and their place in the community as central as the local bakery and tavern. On October 22-23rd, 2011 the Cape Breton Blacksmith Association (CBBA), Parks Canada and the Fortress of Louisbourg Association are hosting a Hammer-In at the fortress. Blacksmiths from near and far are being encouraged to “Come party like it’s 1727!” and to “Get Hammered In Louisbourg” says Grant Haverstock, president of the CBBA.
A Hammer-In is a public demonstration where blacksmiths display techniques of their trade, while getting public support for their local association. “What makes this Hammer-In unique,” explains Haverstock, “is that observers will get to see historic techniques and tools juxtaposed with modern advancements in the trade”. Also exciting for the blacksmiths attending the Hammer-In, is that they get to stay overnight in the Fortress, bunking up in the barracks.
“Parks Canada is thrilled to work with The Cape Breton Blacksmiths Association and the Fortress Louisbourg Association to present the first annual ‘Hammer In’ event at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site,” says Lester Marchand, Visitor Experience Manager at the Fortress. “Blacksmiths played an important role in 18th century Louisbourg, so it is appropriate that we can welcome this group of skilled tradespeople back to the Fortress where their craft has a very real connection with this historic site.”
The public is warmly encouraged to join in the spectacle. You will have to pay admission to the Fortress, but the off-season rates are very reasonable. You will also have an opportunity to become a member of the CBBA, if you take a liking to the trade during your visit. If so, you can get started by taking introductory blacksmith lessons from Haverstock at his Firehouse Ironworks shop in Whycocomagh. He has been kept busy offering 1-2 day long courses throughout the summer to students from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and as far away as Manitoba. For more information visit www.cbblacksmiths.com.