COVID-19 and the Wareham Forge
Current : July 9, 2020
|July 9 Revision
The Ontario Government has announced come specific
loosening of the restrictions enacted on April 4.
Some are to be lifted today (in time for the
Victoria Day weekend), others starting Tuesday May
19. It should be noted that normal operations at the
Wareham Forge would NOT be included here.
courses originally scheduled for July are
As I continued my own research into this ongoing
situation, it became clear that politics has
influenced 'official' orders - more than actual
As the Ontario government has bent to the
demands of a frustrated public, the mob scenes
at beaches and stores was a predictable result.
As will be the resulting new waves of the
I ask potential students not take this
personally, as I remain concerned about my own
health. It is becoming clear the airborne
transmission vectors are more pronounced that
originally communicated. To complicate my
existing risk factors (age, lung damage) I have
had a poor time with exhaustion coupled with
extreme temperatures here over the end of June
into early July (above 30C at Wareham most
I must therefore let you all know I have decided
to cancel all remaining scheduled programs
at the Wareham Forge for the balance of July,
and not set any programs for the month of
There may be some potential for a return to
limited course availability in September /
October. Bear in mind that the forecast 'Second
Wave' is expected about that point. This will
most certainly determine if any courses can be
June 7 Revision
May 15 Revision
On June 3, the Government of
Ontario extended the 'Emergency Measures'
requirements in force until June 30.
At this time, I do not consider the Benefit vs
Risk balance allows for the safe or effective
mounting of workshop programs at the Wareham
All courses originally
scheduled for June are CANCELLED
All courses originally scheduled for July
A discussion of this decision is available as a
blog post : Distancing
at the Wareham Forge
All students must completely self isolate for
a minimum of SEVEN DAYS before attending any
program at the Wareham Forge. This includes
ALL FAMILY MEMBERS (no individual outside
contact of any kind).
First, please read and consider ‘The
Risks - Know Them’ by Dr.
E Bromage. (Originally posted May 3)
Remember several elements from this information :
1) “ We know that at least 44% of all
infections--and the majority of community-acquired
transmissions--occur from people without any
symptoms (asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people).
You can be shedding the virus into the environment
for up to 5 days before symptoms begin.”
2) “A single breath releases 50 - 5000 droplets.
Most of these droplets are low velocity and fall to
the ground quickly. … Importantly, due to the lack
of exhalation force with a breath, viral particles
from the lower respiratory areas are not expelled.”
3) ”Speaking increases the release of respiratory
droplets about 10 fold; ~200 virus particles per
4) “Some experts estimate that as few as 1000
SARS-CoV2 infectious viral particles are all that
will be needed” (to get infected).
“ The principle is viral exposure over an extended
period of time. In all (the illustrated)
cases, people were exposed to the virus in the air
for a prolonged period (hours). Even if they were 50
feet away … , even a low dose of the virus in the
air reaching them, over a sustained period, was
enough to cause infection “
Now apply this information to the physical situation
at the Wareham Forge:
1) I personally have been in self isolation since
March 14. Supply trips away from my rural home have
been limited to no less than one every 14 days.
a) What has been your own personal situation?
b) What might be the situation of other students
2) Blacksmithing is a physical activity. The heavier
breathing required is sure to increase the ‘loading’
from each individual breath, and result in more
force, thus broadcast of particles.
3) Although this applies primarily to my actions
over a course, about 25% of the total time spent
will consist of my verbal explanations.
4) What is the physical space / working situation at
the Wareham Forge?
There are two available working spaces :
a) The primary (coal) forge room, at
effectively 12 x 10 feet. Considerably tighter when
the equipment placement is considered. It is not
possible to maintain 6 foot separation inside this
b) The main workshop area, at roughly 15 x 40
feet. Effectively, when equipment placement is
considered, more like 10 x 25 feet. With careful
placement of propane forges and anvils, it may prove
possible to position two additional working stations
with 6 foot separation.
c) Generally air flow can be considered
moving towards the work stations, over the anvil and
up and over the (extremely hot) forges.
NOTE - None of this allows the instructor to
maintain the required physical distancing.
Bear also in mind that normally students need to be
close enough to the instructor (and thus each other)
to actually see clearly the demonstrations of
technique. Past experience has shown this effective
’observation distance’ to be about three feet.
It is also normally the situation that the
instructor will need to approach individual working
students very closely, sometimes including direct
physical contact, to provide detailed guidance.
The final result here is that the physical
environment required during a blacksmithing training
program, most certainly within the space available
at the Wareham Forge, does not allow the correct
physical distancing needed.
First, I have to consider my own personal
venerability to COVID-19. I have two of the known
risk factors : age and pre-existing condition (lung
damage in my case).
Second, the kind of physical distancing required for
student protection will not allow for an effective
teaching method of blacksmithing skills, in my
No training courses are available at the Wareham
Forge before July 1, 2020
The situation will be re-assessed on June 15, with
the possibility of all July programs also being
cancelled at that time.
Thursday March 25 it was announced by the Ontario
Government that 'non essential' businesses are
instructed to close. All gatherings of more than 5
people were to be restricted.
The list of 'non essential'
businesses was expanded on April 4
- From medical sources, it becomes clear that voluntary
isolation is recommended as necessary.
" The province has enacted a declaration
of emergency to help contain the spread of
COVID-19 and protect the public.
As a result, the following establishments are
required to close immediately:
- all facilities providing indoor recreational
These orders will remain in place until April 13,
2020, when the province will reassess for an
extension or end the closures. "
- The Canadian Government has recommended elimination of
any non work related travel. ’Social Distancing’ is being
stressed from all official sources.
- It is clear that forced 'lock down' procedures are under
consideration - if we as citizens do not act responsibly.
1) No one needs to undertake a training program.
2) Students are unknowns
- gathered from a wide area of Central Ontario (and often
beyond, originally had three bookings from Alberta)
- no knowledge of their own contact patterns (majority are
3) I personally am in at least one of the three primary
risk groups : pre-existing medical condition, specifically
lung damage. (It could be argued that I also fit a second,
as I turn 65 in November, although generally I am in good
health and physical condition overall.)
I did in fact catch a ‘medium’ level of N1H2 back in 2009,
and have had a few sessions of mid to low level pneumonia
over past years.
All of these suggest that I really do need to exercise
extra caution in the current situation.
Wareham is a highly rural location. Any contact with the
larger general population is normally quite limited.
As of March 13, my partner and myself have been self
isolating for individual 14 day periods between any trip
outside our home. Trips since that date (second on March
26) have been limited to only groceries in Dundalk
Deposits / Working Space
1) Any student who has flu like
symptoms is expected NOT to attend
2) Any student who cancels a program related to
possible COVID-19 symptoms - even on shortest notice -
will be offered a FULL REFUND!
3) Any student who wishes to cancel a program due to
personal concerns over attending - will be offered a
5) Originally scheduled programs from on July 1 must be
considered (at best) TENTATIVE.
6) No 'private session' courses will be available before
Moving forward, it is becoming clear that public event
cancellations are moving to at least May, and for major
events now increasingly into June dates.
Additions April 2 :
4) The ideal will be for any individual student to have
themselves self isolated for the full 14 days leading up
to any booked course at Wareham. Students are requested
to consider this before making bookings.
Note that in conjunction with this, my partner and
myself will ALSO undertaking the same isolation period
whenever physically possible.
March 24 :
1) *Courses originally scheduled
for April and May are now cancelled*
- Individuals who have pre booked those programs have
already been offered either a full refund of their
deposits, or the chance to shift their booking to a later
2) Previously announced courses beyond June 1 will remain
on the schedule as presented.
These dates will be considered tentative, on the hopes
that the situation in Canada stabilizes as time
3) Any future courses (into at least the summer dates),
will be limited - TWO students per session.
The working space at the Wareham Forge will be laid out to
provide each of those students with a separate working
space. One in the enclosed coal forge room. One in the
larger workshop space, utilizing the propane forge. This
will provide good 'social distancing' for participants.
I personally expect that the COVID-19 pandemic will result
in a major alteration of the lifestyles enjoyed by many
over the last three decades, most especially here in