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Sexsmith Blacksmith Shop

Blacksmith Shortly after the subdivision of the Benville Townsite in 1916, a number of commercial buildings began to appear on its various lots. One of the first was this blacksmith shop, an essential element of any farming community. It was constructed and first operated by Dave Bozarth, who lived in the back with his wife and small daughter until 1920. When the Bozarths moved into their new home that year, they took in a young Swedish boarder named Nels Johnson, who had earlier undertaken blacksmithing in Edson. While Bozarth also maintained a livery barn and the Massey Harris dealership, Johnson became his chief blacksmith. In 1924, Bozarth gained title to this lot and the one to the left, where his dealership and livery barn stood.

In 1927, Bozarth sold his dealership to William Shannon, and the following year, gave up the blacksmith and livery barn to become a farmer. The blacksmith shop and barn were taken over by Johnson who, in 1930, divested the barn to Art Fenton. Johnson would continue to operate the blacksmith shop with local helpers like Martin Hovedbo until 1974, at which time it was purchased by William Shannon's son, Danny Shannon. Although blacksmithing had long been a dying trade, Danny Shannon retained this 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 and is structural evidence of the service the community provided to its agricultural hinterland. With its early equipment in place, it also affords visitors a unique opportunity to see how this most critical local industry was conducted during the early and middle years of the twentieth century.



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