When Christine Tupper-Turner passed away this past December, The Milton Blacksmith Shop lost their manager and one of their greatest advocates.
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The Milton Heritage Society wasn’t sure if the Blacksmith Shop would be able to re-open until Matthew Collins stepped up to the plate. Collins worked as a student at the Blacksmith Shop in the 1980’s as their summer student and assisted Tupper-Turner over the past few years when she needed to take time off. He has a fine arts degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
Linda Rafuse, president of the Milton Heritage Society is pleased that the museum will be able to operate this summer.
“We are very sure the residents of the community would like to see the Blacksmith Shop stay open,” says Rafuse.
Rafuse says the Milton Heritage Society would like to provide Collins with as much help as possible. She would like to see the society take a more active role in the community again.
Rafuse, along with the vice-president of the society looked into their budget and the Blacksmith Shop’s budget. They think the shop will be able to run this season.
The season may need to be shortened if the Blacksmith Shop is not given their regular grant by the Region of Queens Municipality. The Blacksmith Shop receives $1,250 per year from the Region of Queens Municipality. Their operating budget is around $10,000.
The Region of Queens cannot commit to all of its previous grant receivers until an assessment is done on the former Resolute site. If there is a significant tax revenue loss, some cuts may be made to the budget.
The Blacksmith Shop receives money from the federal government and provincial government because it is a part of the Community Museum Assistance Program. The Queens County Museum is also a part of this group of museums.
Collins, with help from Rafuse, has applied for a federal grant to hire a summer student. That fee is completely covered by the federal government.
Collins says he is hoping to spruce up some of the displays but does not want to make any major changes.
“(The Blacksmith Shop) was kind of (Christine)’s thing. I don’t want to really change it a great deal but it would be nice to keep it going as is and maybe have a few more things go on there such as demonstrations,” he says.
Collins says he plans on arranging demonstrations by a blacksmith on an outdoor propane forge. The method would be the same as a coal fired forge. The Blacksmith Shop is unable to use their original forge due to safety issues.
The Milton Blacksmith Shop was built in 1903 and was used for general blacksmithing, farrier work and wheelwright work (wheels for carriages for example). The Blacksmith Shop was in use until the 1970’s and was sold in 1987 to the village of Milton. The community then formed the Milton Heritage Society to renovate the building and turn it into a museum. The shop was a community hub from the time of it’s building until it was turned into a museum.