Sexsmith Blacksmith Shop fonds. — 1900-1974. — 30 cm of textual records. — 26 cards.
After the subdivision of the Benville Townsite (later re-named Sexsmith) in 1916, one of the first commercial buildings to appear was the blacksmith shop. It was constructed and first operated by Dave Bozarth, who lived in the back with his family until 1920. He operated a livery barn and Massey-Harris agency as well.
In 1920, the Bozarths took in a young boarder named Nels Johnson, who had learned the blacksmith trade in his home country of Sweden. Johnson became the chief blacksmith and in 1927, the owner. He would continue to be the village blacksmith in that same shop until 1974, a period of 54 years.
Nels Johnson was born in Jantland, Sweden in 1890, and immigrated to Canada in 1909. In Canada he smithed for the Grand Trunk Railroad as it was being constructed to Edson, then set up shop in Edson. Here, a common task was shoeing the oxen which were taking settlers in to the Grande Prairie area over the Edson Trail. In 1914, he made his first of many trips over the trail. In 1920 he located permanently in Sexsmith, where he went into partnership with Dave Bozarth, and in 1930 married Charlotte Cook Burns, a widow with three children.
Being a “smitty” did not simply consist of sharpening plowshares, shoeing horses and repair work. If a part was not fixable, it had to be re-made, and Nels Johnson was a master at this. He also created works of art in his blacksmith shop.
In 1974 the shop was purchased by Wm. Shannon & Sons, who retained the structure and its equipment intact until 1986, when it was acquired by the Town of Sexsmith. By this time, its restoration had taken place under the auspices of the Sexsmith Museum Society, which continues to maintain and interpret it. The Sexsmith Blacksmith shop is the oldest building in the community.
The records were preserved by the Sexsmith Museum and deposited in Grande Prairie Regional Archives in 2004.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of paper artifacts found in the Sexsmith Blacksmith Shop at the time it was restored in 1986. The artifacts include Legal documents; products advertising the shop and blacksmithing prices; customer records; financial records; templates, designs and procedures; catalogs, manuals and brochures showing materials and supplies; and personal records from the Johnson family.
Table of Contents
|Series 186.01||Legal Documents series|
|Series 186.03||Customer records series|
|Series 186.04||Financial records series|
|Series 186.05||Templates, Designs and Procedures series|
|Series 186.06||Materials and supplies series|
|Series 186.07||Personal records series|
|Series 186.01||Legal Documents series. — 1958-1974. — .5 cm of textual records.
The series consists of documents, mostly from the Government of Alberta, which regulate the blacksmithing trade and labour practices. Included are 1958 and 1965 Alberta Labour Act Posters, a 1960 Inspector’s Report, 1962 welding license for Bryce Burns (stepson), a 1958 brand registration for Jerry Stojan, a 1974 pamphlet for Canada Savings Bonds, and a letter from a law firm regarding the sale of his Blacksmith Shop to Wm. Shannon & Sons.
|Series 186.03||Customer records series. — 1954-1974. — 1 cm of textual records.
The series consists of an alphabetical listing of customers, counter sales books and slips for work done, and shipping tags showing work orders being shipped back to customers throughout the south Peace River country of Alberta.
|Series 186.04||Financial records series. — 1920-1974. — 1 cm of textual records.
The series consists of a financial ledger from 1920 to 1924; and invoices from 1920 to 1974.
|Series 186.05||Templates, Designs and Procedures series. — 2 cm of textual records.
The series consists of two small booklets containing hand-drawn plans, a copy of Eden’s Mechanical Tables, a chart detailing weights of bar iron and steel used in blacksmithing procedures, procedure charts for using electrodes in arc welding and for the storage and handling of dangerous materials, and some cardboard templates.
|Series 186.06||Materials and supplies series. — 1900-1974. — 22 cm of textual records.
The series consists of posters, brochures, manuals, catalogs and advertising cards detailing the materials and supplies used by a blacksmith. Includes portions of Alberta Blacksmith Association Price List posters.
|Series 186.07||Personal records series. — 1945-1965. — 2 cm of textual records.
The series consists of hospital records for Charlotte Johnson, a 1943-1945 bank book for Art Fenton who ran a Livery Barn and a Dray and Cartage business right next to the Blacksmith Shop in Sexsmith, 26 Christmas Cards from the mid-60s, receipts for household expenses and receipts for donations to charity.