Living History in the Heart of Milton!
The Waldie Blacksmith Shop is one of the oldest operating blacksmith shops in Ontario still in its original location. After operating continuously from 1865 right up until the 1970s, the shop lay dormant until 1999 when a group of determined volunteers with the Milton Historical Society 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:
Mid-March to December, Wed. & Sat. 10 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.
Waldie Blacksmith Shop Tour Program
Take a tour of the shop as well as the Alex Cooke 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 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.
Three generations of Waldies shod horses, repaired wagons and manufactured farm implements and horse drawn carriages for the local community:
James Waldie Sr.
(photo circa 1855)
James A. Waldie
(on the right)
Alfred E. Waldie
(photo circa 1967)
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.
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 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:
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.
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