Fonds 186 Sexsmith Blacksmith Shop fonds

Sexsmith Blacksmith Shop fonds. — 1900-1974. — 30 cm of textual records. — 26 cards.

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Biographical Sketch

After the subdivision of the Benville Townsite (later re-named Sexsmith) in 1916, one of the first commercial buildings to appear was the blacksmith shop. It was constructed and first operated by Dave Bozarth, who lived in the back with his family until 1920. He operated a livery barn and Massey-Harris agency as well.

In 1920, the Bozarths took in a young boarder named Nels Johnson, who had learned the blacksmith trade in his home country of Sweden. Johnson became the chief blacksmith and in 1927, the owner. He would continue to be the village blacksmith in that same shop until 1974, a period of 54 years.

Nels Johnson was born in Jantland, Sweden in 1890, and immigrated to Canada in 1909. In Canada he smithed for the Grand Trunk Railroad as it was being constructed to Edson, then set up shop in Edson. Here, a common task was shoeing the oxen which were taking settlers in to the Grande Prairie area over the Edson Trail. In 1914, he made his first of many trips over the trail. In 1920 he located permanently in Sexsmith, where he went into partnership with Dave Bozarth, and in 1930 married Charlotte Cook Burns, a widow with three children.

Being a “smitty” did not simply consist of sharpening plowshares, shoeing horses and repair work. If a part was not fixable, it had to be re-made, and Nels Johnson was a master at this. He also created works of art in his blacksmith shop.

In 1974 the shop was purchased by Wm. Shannon & Sons, who retained the 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.

Custodial History

The records were preserved by the Sexsmith Museum and deposited in Grande Prairie Regional Archives in 2004.

Scope and Content

The fonds consists of paper artifacts found in the Sexsmith Blacksmith Shop at the time it was restored in 1986. The artifacts include Legal documents; products advertising the shop and blacksmithing prices; customer records; financial records; templates, designs and procedures; catalogs, manuals and brochures showing materials and supplies; and personal records from the Johnson family.


Title based on the contents of the fonds.<

Table of Contents

Series 186.01 Legal Documents series
Series 186.03 Customer records series
Series 186.04 Financial records series
Series 186.05 Templates, Designs and Procedures series
Series 186.06 Materials and supplies series
Series 186.07 Personal records series


Series 186.01 Legal Documents series. — 1958-1974. — .5 cm of textual records.

The series consists of documents, mostly from the Government of Alberta, which regulate the blacksmithing trade and labour practices. Included are 1958 and 1965 Alberta Labour Act Posters, a 1960 Inspector’s Report, 1962 welding license for Bryce Burns (stepson), a 1958 brand registration for Jerry Stojan, a 1974 pamphlet for Canada Savings Bonds, and a letter from a law firm regarding the sale of his Blacksmith Shop to Wm. Shannon & Sons.

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Series 186.03 Customer records series. — 1954-1974. — 1 cm of textual records.

The series consists of an alphabetical listing of customers, counter sales books and slips for work done, and shipping tags showing work orders being shipped back to customers throughout the south Peace River country of Alberta.

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Series 186.04 Financial records series. — 1920-1974. — 1 cm of textual records.

The series consists of a financial ledger from 1920 to 1924; and invoices from 1920 to 1974.

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Series 186.05 Templates, Designs and Procedures series. — 2 cm of textual records.

The series consists of two small booklets containing hand-drawn plans, a copy of Eden’s Mechanical Tables, a chart detailing weights of bar iron and steel used in blacksmithing procedures, procedure charts for using electrodes in arc welding and for the storage and handling of dangerous materials, and some cardboard templates.

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Series 186.06 Materials and supplies series. — 1900-1974. — 22 cm of textual records.

The series consists of posters, brochures, manuals, catalogs and advertising cards detailing the materials and supplies used by a blacksmith. Includes portions of Alberta Blacksmith Association Price List posters.

Marshall-Wells Alberta poster, 1900 ca.

Price list, advertising, and instructions for steel products
Location: 186.06.01

Machine Shop Price List, 1947

Price list, advertising, and instructions for vehicle parts
Location: 186.06.02

Snap-On, 1948

Catalog of tools available and price lists
Location: 186.06.03

Power Unit for Diesel No 11 Auto Patrol Parts catalog, 1957

Catalog of parts available and detailed diagrams.
Location: 186.06.04

Massey-Harris No. 509 One Way Disc and Seeder Parts List, 1951

Catalog of repair parts available with illustrations
Location: 186.06.05

Machine Shop Operations Price List No. 47, 1950 ca.

Catalog of machine shop repairs with prices
Location: 186.06.06

Automotive Catalog, 1958

Catalog of car parts and supplies
Location: 186.06.07

Snap-on Tools, 1958

Catalog of tools available
Location: 186.06.08

Service Repair Machine Shop Price List, 1959

Service repair descriptions and prices
Location: 186.06.09

Princess Auto Buyer’s Guide, 1974

Catalog including descriptions and prices
Location: 186.06.10

Snap-on Tools and Shop Equipment, 1963

Catalog including descriptions and prices
Location: 186.06.11

Cyclopedia of Livestock and Complete Stock Doctor, 1911

Reference encyclopedia related to animal husbandry
Location: 186.06.12

Heritage 1847-1972, 1972

Heritage magazine celebrating the 125 years of Massey – Ferguson
Location: 186.06.13

Popular Mechanics, 1966

Magazine featuring sections on automotives, special features, shop craftsman, tips, and inventions
Location: 186.06.14

Canadian Welder, Blacksmith and Repairman, 1946

Magazine geared to welders, blacksmith and repairmen.
Location: 186.06.15

Coleman Blow-Torches, 1959

Directions for the use of the Coleman blow-torch and parts list.
Location: 186.06.16

John Deere Tractor Grain Binder Operator’s Manual

Manual for the 8 and 10 foot binders with detailed diagrams of parts.
Location: 186.06.17

Caterpillar D4 Diesel Tractor, 1952

Descriptive details of the features of the D4 diesel tractor
Location: 186.06.18

Installation and Operating Fairbanks-Morse Deep Well Turbine Pumps

Instructions 6900-F for the Fairbanks-Morse Deep Well Turbine Pumps
Location: 186.06.19

Installation and Operating Fairbanks-Morse Deep Well Turbine Pumps, 1958

Instructions 6980-A for the Fairbanks-Morse Pomona Little Chief Pumps
Location: 186.06.20

Skil Models Super Duty Disc Sander Instruction Manual, 1972

Instruction manual for models 852C, 853C, 854C
Location: 186.06.21

Overhauling Mc Cormick-Deering 10-20 and 15-30 Tractors, 1923

Manuals including detailed photographs illustrating repairs
Location: 186.06.22

Massey-Harris High Grade Farm Implements, 1918

Illustrated story with details of Massy-Harris implements, interspersed with a 1918 monthly calendar
Location: 186.06.23

Chilton’s Automobile Repair Manual, 1958

Manual for repairing 21 different models of American cars, from Buick to Willys, with special sections on repairing transmissions and advice on general repairs from Air conditioning to Power lifts on Windows.
Location: 186.06.24

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Series 186.07 Personal records series. — 1945-1965. — 2 cm of textual records.

The series consists of hospital records for Charlotte Johnson, a 1943-1945 bank book for Art Fenton who ran a Livery Barn and a Dray and Cartage business right next to the Blacksmith Shop in Sexsmith, 26 Christmas Cards from the mid-60s, receipts for household expenses and receipts for donations to charity.

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