I had been out of the province in May when the devastating forest fires at Fort MacMurray happened and I, like many others in Alberta and across Canada felt helpless. I knew I didn’t have the skills needed for this, I was not a fire fighter or a medic but I began to wonder what I could do to help. As a blacksmith what skills did I have that would be useful. Then I began to rethink that thought; what could blacksmiths in Alberta do to help. This is when the idea of a hammer in came to me. So after I got back to Alberta I started to flush out this idea and begin the design of the bench and once I had it more thought out I brought it to the Lacombe historical society which runs the blacksmith museum that I volunteer for.
The Lacombe historical society has always been supportive of pretty much every idea I bring to them.( the 16 foot high French double gates gave them pause). They are so supportive and I have to admit they are a huge reason I enjoy the volunteering I do for the museum.
We sent an invite out to the Alberta blacksmiths on as many channels and guilds as I could find. Then on August 20-21,2016,during our farm days event, we had our first hammer in at the museum. One bench was auctioned off at the Culture and Harvst festival in September 24- October 2 ( its new residence is now in Calgary Ab) and the other will be completed over the winter and brought up and donated to the community of Fort MacMurray in the spring. We had 4 skilled blacksmiths and approximately ten volunteer blacksmiths from our wonderful volunteer smiths show up each day to work on the benches. I’m happy to say we were able to get the larger pieces done that weekend and worked on the smaller pieces on our open days at the museum and at my own shop as well. Then we took all of the pieces and drove up to Edmonton area to Scott’s shop and continued to work on the first bench that was to be for the auction. After completing the bench I brought it to the painters here in Red Deer ,Ab (Metalstrip and coatings inc ) and they did a wonderful job. The proceeds raised is to go to the Red Cross for Fort MacMurray . I will admit it took 3 days longer than expected to finish putting it together but it looks wonderful and all of the smiths who helped out should feel really proud in what they helped accomplish. And a super thank you to Scott Quinelle for going above and beyond that last week,I really appreciated the effort you put into this project. Not sure on how many man hours it all took but I’ll figure that out and let you know.
Here is the list of names of the smiths that helped with making these benches:
Dennis Girardin,Cale Chambers,Rene Theroux,Tim Turnbull,Henrietta Verwey,Karl Beller,Colton Broughton,Mitch Langell,Gordon Peters,Bryan Sved,Scott Quinell,Kenny Fuller,Nathan Stone,Seth Burnard
In the spring I’ll keep you all posted as to the second bench and us going to Fort Mac .