Cannon maker: Life’s a blast for Lanark County cannon maker

Tony Walsh has lived in Lanark County’s Watson’s Corners since 1978; a lover of its geography and its individuals.

“Lanark County is form of like a land-locked Cape Breton,” he smiles.

“Good individuals. Good space. To me, it’s heaven.”

After a 30-year navy profession in Canada’s Armed Forces, the previous weapons technician and longtime, gifted blacksmith retired to this space.  

Or so he thought.

Walsh, now 77, has by no means been one to place his ft up, or decelerate. He’s too busy having a blast, exploring his explosive ardour for historical past.

And cannons.

“As a blacksmith, I began doing steel work and making components for somebody who was promoting cannons,” he says.

However when that particular person went out of enterprise, Walsh obtained an thought.

“I had an entire bunch of cannon stuff that I had made up, and I believed I’m going to need to promote it. And to promote it, I ended making the complete cannon,” he chuckled.

“And that’s the way it began.”

Earlier than lengthy, Walsh was taking orders from throughout North America.  Civil Warfare reenactors and museums needed cannons.

So did Parks Canada, Sign HIll in Newfoundland, and the Halifax Citadel.

For forty years, Walsh has been fashioning cannons to the best specs, utilizing historic technical drawings and written descriptions from the period.  

Gracing his property at the moment is a six pound breach loading rifle, modelled after a cannon designed by Britain’s Sir William Armstrong within the 1850’s.

“I actually take pleasure in it as a result of I attempt to duplicate Armstrong’s strategies,” says Walsh.

“The person was a genius. The barrel was not one piece.  One is shrunk on one other, so the within barrel is 5 ten 1000’s of an inch larger than the outlet it’s entering into.  I could make an Armstrong, from begin to end, in about two months,” he says.

“Simply by itself, that’s $22 thousand.”

Whereas most purchasers don’t launch projectiles from Walsh’s cannons (it’s extra concerning the bang and smoke), his weapons are able to firing.

His accomplice mountain rifle is used to fireplace at targets by reenactor teams within the US.

“It must be correct as a result of they fireplace it stay,” he says.

Tony Walsh

Vintage equipment is significant to manufacturing in Walsh’s store.  There’s a century previous lathe and a large energy hammer, which saves the blacksmith time and vitality when pounding metal.

At 77, Walsh does really feel the wear and tear and tear of the job.  Constructing each part, together with the big picket wheels, might be bodily taxing.

“A lot of the wheels I work with are about 5 ft tall and weigh about 2 hundred and fifty kilos, so there’s no manner you’re going to toss them round,” he says.

Regardless of the challenges of the job, seeing his weapons work makes all of it worthwhile.

“I’m having a ball,” he laughs.

So Tony Walsh’s journey continues.

“Till I croak,” he smiles.

Appears there’s nonetheless numerous fireplace left in Lanark County’s cannon maker.  His retirement must wait.

“I wish to work to inside three days of them shovelling sand in my face.”

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