Thursday, December 12, 2019

Brian Hughes, Highland Forge

Many years ago, when I rented a shop for my motorcycles in Kingston, Ontario, one of the other tenants was a blacksmith/philosopher named Brian Hughes. His shop (Highland Forge) was a delight to visit, a dark comfortable place in a limestone basement with coal fires providing most of the light, filled with the fragrance of coal and steam. He never was too busy to stop and share his views on life and the world. 
I tried- without much luck- to pick up some blacksmithing skills by osmosis and one day by way of explanation of the process, he made me this knot. As he pointed out, you can't just heat up a rod of steel and tie a knot, the material just doesn't move that easily, it all has to be pushed into place in stages with a hammer and multiple reheatings, a time consuming and deliberate process. To complete the piece he tapered and shaped the ends into the standard decorative little curlicues- in the time honoured way. 
I still have it.

Time went by, I left town to go to school, he moved his shop to Westport and we kind of lost touch over the years. I heard through the grapevine he had passed away (much too early) and it took awhile to find something about him on the net.

The Anvil's Ring

"Live every day as if it was your last- but plan on living forever..."


VectorWarbirds said...

Nice to see Bryan learned his trade out here in the Arizona Territory were I currently reside. Plenty of old time and new farriers in these parts. I think he is glad to know the blacksmith trade is alive and well and even growing from what I can see. Either way that man went too young. You might be interested in this old smithy and wagon builder in your spare time, take a look at Engels Coach Shop on You Tube and travel back in time. I see Bryan sitting by a warm forge in the sky,

Mister G said...

Different Brian Hughes! Wow, that's a coincidence.
I will look at Engels Coach Shop, thanks!

VectorWarbirds said...

Mister G I am confused, In Memory of The Blacksmith of Westport it says Bryan was a graduate of Western's School of Horseshoeing(Arizona) 1970 and worked as a farrier. What am I missing?

Mister G said...

Apologies! Apparently, now I'm the one that's confused! In the time I hung around I don't remember him talking about Arizona, and he was vocal in his dislike of horses!
I missed the line about his schooling and then there is this Brian Hughes working in Arizona.
Thanks for the catch!

VectorWarbirds said...

Mr. G I can believe he had a dislike for horses being a farrier for some time! Our farries doesn't particularly like horses either. It might kinda be like people, if you are around enough of them you might not like people either:) After being kicked, bitten and generally thrown around horses can be a pain in the arse. Cheers from Arizona!