Over the past few years, Highland Village animation staff have been transitioning interpretation from 3rd person to 1st person (or role playing). Through this process, staff have developed their own personas, each with their own stories and experiences. In this blog, we meet Alasdair MacCoinnich (or Alistair MacKenzie), the Village blacksmith.
At 14 years of age a boy named Alasdair MacCoinnich (mac Ailein Osdain) became an apprentice to Mr. Alex Matheson, An Gobha (the blacksmith), in the parish of Iona. It takes four years of apprenticeship training before he can master the trade. Alasdair came from a small family. His older brothers had already left Cape Breton to find work in the Manitoba grain fields. He wanted to find work at home. By choosing to be a blacksmith he would be considered one of the most valued members of the community.
A’ Cheàrdach (the forge) is where the blacksmith makes any iron item that early settlers will need. Everything from tàirnean ‘s cruidhean (nails and horseshoes), to dubhain ‘s slabhraidhean (hooks and chains), will need to be made by hand.
In 1902, Matheson retired and Alasdair purchased the shop from him. Alasdair has spent the last 40 years working as a blacksmith.
-Alasdair MacCoinnich (mac Ailein Osdain ) is portrayed by Hoss MacKenzie, a retired RCMP Officer from Gillis Point, Cape Breton. He has been with the Highland Village Museum for the past 5 seasons.
Join us this Saturday, August 9th, from 10 to 5 pm, for a celebration of the art of blacksmithing at our first Hammer In with the Cape Breton Blacksmiths Association. Regular admission fees apply.