Old craft of smithing gets new lease at Old Montreal shop
The old craft of blacksmithing will live on in Old Montreal thanks to a subsidy from the city.
Ivan Savchev works as what’s known as a journeyman blacksmith at Les Forges, a non-profit smithy which bills itself as the only place in Quebec where you can learn the ancient art of metalwork. It’s a trade that’s not much known outside the small community.
“Those who know if think we shoe horses or make fences or make swords for giants or something,” said Savchev.
But for those in the field, smithing is part of a long tradition.
“It’s a part of history, it’s a cultural heritage,” said Les Forges founder Mathieu Collette.
Les Forges is the subject of documentary ‘Foundations,’ which premiered on Friday night. But even as it educates the public about its proud tradition, Les Forges was in danger of closing. But on Wednesday, they received word that the City of Montreal modified a clause in the shop’s lease, removing a requirement that Les Forges invest $1 million for renovations.
“I’m very happy because removing that clause is a good intention,” said Collette.
City councillor Anne-Marie Sigouin called the removed clause unreasonable.
“I started with them back in 2015 and it seemed absurd,” she said.
Les Forges is located on federal land leased to the city that in turns sublets to Les Forges. The workshop had previously paid out $1 million to renovate the old riverside pumping station, which is more than 100-years-old.
With the clause removed and their lease expiring in 2021, Collette said Les Forges will push for a new 30-year lease.