Living History in the Heart of Milton!
The Waldie Blacksmith Shop preserves an important link to one of the earliest and most vital businesses in the history of Ontario. It is one of the oldest operating blacksmith shops in the province that remains in its original location.
After operating continuously from 1865 right up until the 1970s, the shop lay dormant for several years. In 1999, however, the Milton Historical Society and a group of determined volunteers restored and rebuilt it, transforming it into an educational venue, living history museum, and home to the Society and its archives.
Come and experience Waldie’s!
Hours of operation:
Starting April, Saturdays 9 am-Noon
During open hours our experienced blacksmiths will have the forge going and will be happy to demonstrate their craft and answer any questions you may have.
Want to try your hand at smithing? Blacksmith Courses are available at Beginner and Intermediate levels.
Waldie Blacksmith Shop Tour Program
Take a tour of the shop as well as the Cooke/Dills Memorial Archives. Read more…
The History of the Waldie Blacksmith Shop
The Waldie Family:
James Waldie Sr. 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 and established the smithy that would operate in the same building at 16 James Street for over 100 years.
During its peak period in the early 1890’s, the blacksmith shop employed a painter, a trimmer, two woodworkers and five blacksmiths from dawn to dusk.
Three generations of Waldies shod horses, repaired wagons and manufactured farm implements and horse drawn carriages for the local community:
James Waldie Sr. 1832-1900 (photo circa 1855)
James A. Waldie 1871-1948 (on the right)
Alfred E. Waldie 1905-1980 (photo circa 1967)
Architecture and Restoration
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 under the auspices of the Milton Historical Society.
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 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.
There is no better way to tell the story of the Waldie Blacksmith Shop renovation project than through pictures:
In the pictures above, Tom Murison is shown squaring the logs, felling the tree and making the beam joints. Tom’s company, Murison Design, was our Restoration Contractor for the project. Tom is an expert in restoring heritage and historic buildings. He is also a dendrochronologist (dates buildings from lumber used). Along with Stone Mason Peter Devine from Scotland, who also specializes in restoration work, Tom and his employees were the main contractors on the project. The Milton Historical Society was certainly very lucky to have had these experts restore Milton’s historic Waldie Blacksmith Shop!
For more information on the renovation work to restore the Waldie Blacksmith Shop, please visit the building and speak with the volunteers.
The Milton Historical Society received financial assistance and in-kind donations from key organizations during the restoration and rebuilding of the historic shop in the early 2000s. This enabled us to restore and preserve the building for future generations.
The following is a list of some generous donors that assisted in making the restoration a success:
- Jack Hardiman Roofing
- Roxul Inc.
- Woodbine Entertainment
- The James Dills Family
- Dufferin Aggregates
- The Waldie Family