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James Flewwelling and a Modified Plough

Flewwelling and his apprentice blacksmith At the turn of the 19th century, there was a considerable need for farming implements to break land in central Alberta. Although Frank Van Slyke was the originator of the most well known plough in the area, the demand was so high that others, such as those built by James Francis Flewwelling came to market.

Flewwelling and his twins By the time James Francis Flewwelling, or Frank, had arrived in the Mirror, Alberta region, he’d had many years of blacksmithing experience. Born on a farm near Fergus, Ontario, he moved with his family to a spot just outside of Kenton, Manitoba. Leaving home to train as a blacksmith, Flewwelling spent time in Hamiota, Manitoba, before returning to Kenton to establish a blacksmithing business in the late 1890s. Shortly thereafter, he married Charlotte Ann Hodgson, a seamstress from Ontario. The two had their first child in Kenton, a baby girl who passed away shortly after her birth. She was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery near their home.

The Flewwelling family Deciding to sell their business in Kenton, the Flewwellings moved to Saskatoon from where James travelled across Canada selling various farm implements. In 1910, he found himself at the land auction in the newly established Mirror, Alberta. He purchased a few lots and was soon building a new blacksmith shop to service the community. In addition to the business, the Flewwelling family grew. In 1912, William Henry was born and, soon after, twins Russell Abram and Francis Ross joined the family.

Flewwelling with his plow Shortly after Frank Van Slyke designed and patented his breaking plough, Flewwelling obtained permission to build some in their likeness. Built at the request of local families, such as the Murdochs of the Lake Bend District, Flewwelling’s ploughs were constructed in 1915 and 1916, and featured a few differences from the Van Slyke design. Flewwelling constructed 11 of the ploughs in total. Although each of the ploughs was sold to other families, in 1980, one of them was given back to the Flewwelling family. It is currently stored near Red Deer.

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