Forging On blacksmith history website launches at Pickering Museum Village

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Published March 15, 2024 at 9:46 pm

young blacksmith

The evolution of blacksmithing Ontario is the focus of a new and improved interactive website at Pickering Museum Village, thanks to a $100,000 grant from Digital Museums Canada.

The Forging ON website launched last year following two years of pandemic renovations to the museum and is a collaboration with five partner sites across Ontario, including Fanshawe Pioneer Village, Westfield Heritage Village, Lang Pioneer Village, Grey Roots Museum and Archives and Fleming College. Each site was tasked with representing an era of blacksmithing from the 1860s to the present day.

Pickering Museum Village took on the challenge of representing blacksmithing in the 1960s. The museum had the opportunity to work closely with local artist Geordie Lishman, son of Bill Lishman, an award-winning artist, sculptor, writer and filmmaker (Fly Away Home) and naturalist who used the Greenwood Blacksmith Shop (now located at Pickering Museum Village) as his first art studio in the late 60s.

The site is targeted at students in grades 7-12 and users can learn about how blacksmithing evolved from an essential trade to a form of art.

The website features a dozen fun and educational videos that take users through a journey of what blacksmithing was like from the late 1800s to the present day. The videos demonstrate the challenges blacksmiths faced and how they resolved them using tools from their respective time periods.

Available in both English and French, the innovative website features an interactive timeline that invites users to explore blacksmithing in Ontario, with dynamic videos that showcase blacksmiths at work.

Users can take a closer look into common blacksmithing tools on the “Blacksmith’s Toolbox” page, including real photos of artifacts found in the Pickering Museum Village and other museum collections.

Teachers can download free lesson plans and worksheets to use in the classroom.  The resources cover history, art and science and were developed in line with the Ontario curriculum.

Check out the new digital exhibit at forgingon.ca.

The blacksmith shop was renovated over the past two years with structural repairs that granted first time public access to the second floor of the building – originally the paint shop where carriages and wagons were painted and decorated. This space now provides visitors an opportunity to explore pigments, paints and get creative with paint-based activities. On the main floor, visitors can construct their own wagon and wagon parts as well as learn about the science and history behind blacksmithing.

Tools of the Trade. Art by Dani Crosby

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