Waldie Blacksmith Shop

The Waldie Family:

James Alfred Waldie was born in Scotland in 1832. He completed his apprenticeship as a blacksmith in Scotland by 1853 and as a young man came to Canada eventually taking over a blacksmith business in Acton. By 1865 the Waldie family had moved to Milton establishing a blacksmith business that would operate in the same building at 16 James Street for over 100 years.

The blacksmith shop, built by James Waldie Sr., employed a painter, trimmer, two woodworkers and five blacksmiths from dawn to dusk during its peak period in the early 1890’s.

James Waldie Sr.
(circa 1855)

Three generations of Waldies:

James Sr. (1832-1900)
James Jr. (1871-1948) and
Alfred (1905-1980)

shod horses, repaired wagons and manufactured farm implements and horse drawn carriages for the local community. Alfred was the last member of the Waldie family to operate the blacksmith shop which he closed in the early 1970’s. His dream to have the blacksmith shop restored is now a reality thanks to the efforts of the Waldie family, Milton Historical Society, Town of Milton, Province of Ontario, and the community.

Alfred Waldie
(circa 1967)

Restoration of the Waldie Blacksmith Shop preserves an important link to one of the earliest and most vital businesses in the history of Ontario. The blacksmith’s role was crucial in keeping horses, oxen and mules capable of tilling the soil, drawing wagons, sleds, and carriages both on the farm and in towns and villages.

Waldie Blacksmith Shop

The Waldie Blacksmith Shop is a post and beam timber structure with rubble stone infill walls built by James Waldie in 1865. It is rare that a blacksmith shop structure still exists in its original urban location as most shops have been lost or moved to a museum setting. The building has been lovingly preserved and restored on its original site over the past 3 years under the auspices of the Milton Historical Society.

There is no better way to tell the story of the Waldie Blacksmith Shop renovation project than through pictures:

The Waldie Blacksmith Shop

Volunteers Clearing the Old Shop

Cleared Out, Ready for Restoration

Squaring the Logs (see note below about Tom)

Cutting Timber for the Renovation

Making a Joint in the New Beam

Reclaiming the Old Beams

Volunteers, November 1999

Volunteers Hard at Work

Holy Rosary Art Murals, Spring 2001

Restoration Credits

In the pictures above, Tom Murison is shown squaring the logs, felling the tree and making the beam joints. Tom, and his company, “Murison Design” was our Restoration Contractor for the project. He is an expert and specializes in restoring heritage and historic buildings.  Tom is also a dendrochronologist (dates buildings from lumber used). He and his employee’s along with Stone Mason Peter Devine from Scotland, who also specializes in restoration work, were the two main contractors on the project. The Milton Historical Society was certainly very lucky to have had these two experts restore Milton’s “Historic Waldie Blacksmith Shop”!  They really know how to restore heritage buildings taking the care to authenticate their work.

For more information on the renovation work to restore the Waldie Blacksmith Shop, please visit the building and speak with the volunteers.