Arne Noesgaard gives a lesson to Ken Banner on a blacksmith forge.

Blacksmiths hammered skills into history

Sooke is peppered with volunteerism, regardless of what field it may appear in.

Volunteers have always been a big part of the accomplishments of the Sooke Region Museum.

Here we see volunteer Arne Noesgaard working in the blacksmith shop at the museum in 1980.

The little blacksmith shop was built by those dedicated guys in the Sooke Lions Club, from lumber salvaged from a chicken coop on the Fred Milne farm.

The forge in the photo came from the Phillips farm (now Sun River territory) where it performed many years of service; it was saved and given to the museum by oldtimer Ron Fitton.

When Arne Noesgaard retired from his industrial blacksmithing job and he and his wife moved to Sooke, he offered his services to the museum and gave instructions to young fellows like Ken Banner who is assisting him by working the blower in this scene.

It was a bit of a challenge for us to get good anthracite coal to produce the heat needed in the forge, but it was a popular exhibit that attracted spectators and also produced fabricated items.

Arne Noesgaard also offered training to retired gentlemen who wanted to take up blacksmithing as a hobby. Today the blacksmith shop still operates for special event days, and over the last few years has been run by Don Moloney, a local Sooke volunteer.

Ken Banner is a fellow with varied skills, for not only did he learn blacksmithing, but he became a mechanic and today is partnered with a brother in an automotive repair centre. What stands out most for me, though, is his range of talents, for he is an artist as well.

When we opened the first Fine Arts Show in 1986, Ken entered a massive painting, seen as somewhat controversial at the time, and it became one of the attractions that brought visitors to that first show.

Other young fellows who worked with us at the museum through youth training programs in those years were Gordon Carosella, who worked in the blacksmith shop and running the steam donkey, and Alec Jessiman, who also worked with the restored Phillips steam donkey as well, running it on weekends.

Each of these young men went on to become proficient workers in local industry.

We are indebted for this photo to Sheila Whincup who was on assignment to the Sooke Mirror in 1980.

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Elida Peers is a historian with the Sooke Region Museum.