Blacksmith Shop 'Warm Haven'
By Mary Lou Solomon-Smith
For the Tribune
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Jackie Glen, program director of Welland Historical Society, at left, holds a photo of men working at the old blacksmith shop on Mill Street in Welland. Ralph Hogue shows a painting of blacksmith Len (sic) Hogue, his uncle, painted in 1976, while Edythe Phillips, president of the historical society, holds a horseshoe forged at the old blacksmith shop that was on Mill Street.
Ralph Hogue spoke at the Welland Historical Society's recent meeting about his "grandpa's blacksmith shop" which began operations in late 1929 on Fraser Street in Welland.
"He was Mike Hogue to everyone but grandma called him Michael" he said.
"A lot of history is behind this wonderful city and grandpa Hogue's shop was a mecca for everyone".
It was a "warm haven," said Ralph Hogue.
Mike Hogue's initial blacksmith shop purchased in 1907 was located at 15 Niagara Street just north of the Welland House Hotel.
Prior to this, he apprenticed in 1896 to the former owner, Mr. Lymburner, who later sold the business to Mike.
"Grandpa" eventually relocated and moved on to purchase property on Fraser. It was later known as Hogue and Son.
Ralph Hogue, a retired school teacher born and raised in Welland, went on to describe his grandfather as a dedicated Baptist and a wiry and strong man.
His grandfather shod horses for the local dairies (Sunnyside and North Side) and Bluthner and Atkin's Bakeries whose wagons were pulled by horses.
"Welland's brick roads took a toll on their shoes" he added.
Hogue mentioned Ginger, a North Side dairy horse, who was labeled by his grandfather as "a mean cuss."
Blacksmith Hogue suffered many kicks and broken ribs while shoeing the horses and "I am sure Sloan's linament was a household item" his grandson told members of the historical society.
The blacksmith "had a good rapport" with horses who became unsettled upon entering the gloomy interior of the shop filled with smoke, soot, and fire, he said.
They were tethered in the shop while he took about an hour to make a horseshoe.
Blacksmith Hogue also put new rims on wagon wheels, sharpened tools along with other work which was all done by hand.
In 1954, the last horse was shod by the Hogues.
Ralph Hogue now resides in Fonthill but says he's proud of his Welland roots.
• Mary Lou Solomon-Smith writes as a member of Welland Historical Society.
Article ID# 956686