Wareham ForgeNote: Some of the links are to older exhibits, and may not prove viable.
the Wareham Forge is located in rural Ontario, half way between Orangeville and Owen Sound. It combines the facilities of a traditional, coal fired forge, and a modern fine metals studio equipped for casting and sheet forming. The emphasis on traditional blacksmithing techniques produces items of enduring quality and exceptional historical accuracy. The shop has been in operation since 1991, providing goods to museums, retail shops, historical re-enactors and the general public. Past metal reproductions can be seen at a number of museums throughout Canada, including:
L' Anse aux Meadows NHSC • Black Creek Pioneer Village
Darrell Markewitz has been working with forged steel, and producing historic reproductions, for a lifetime (at time of writing : 4 decades). His initial four years at Ontario College of Art lead to work that combines modern methods and traditional craft. Five years as an interpreter at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto, three as primary blacksmith, has led to a deep understanding of historic styles and techniques. An area of personal interest and study has always been the Viking Age, resulting in work that truly spans the ages. Over the years he has visited most of the major museums and living history sites in Central and Eastern Canada, the Northeastern United Sates, as well as many in Denmark, England, Scotland and Ireland.
The Norse Encampment was a major living history / experimental archaeology project started in 1993. This re-creation centred on the first days of the Viking colonization attempt at L' Anse aux Meadows Newfoundland, circa 1000 AD. Along with researching and designing the physical presentation and interpretive program, over 200 individual reproduction artifacts were created. These included items in metal and wood, such as tent, bed, tools, cooking equipment and their storage boxes as well as personal costuming. The original presentations of the Norse Encampment took place as part of the Orangeville Medieval Festival in 93 and 94, and included two interpreters. In 1996, a two week long demonstration program was mounted at the L' Anse aux Meadows NHS in conjunction with Parks Canada. This was a demonstration of the feasibility of introducing living history to this World Heritage Site, and used a total of eight staff. Starting in January of 1997, work was started on creating a regular seasonal interpretive program for the site. A further 175 individual artifact reproductions were created. Six local staff members were trained in Norse history and interpretive techniques. The new living history presentation opened on June 14, 1997, and remains a regular addition to the L' Anse aux Meadows NHS.
Go on to further information on the Norse Encampment
In early 1999, Darrell was part of a team assembled at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History to discuss a major upcoming international exhibition centred on the Norse expansion to North America. 'Vikings - North Atlantic Saga' was the end result of this process. Personal work was on the related educational programming. Working with several other Ontario artisans, a selection of about twenty 'everyday' objects was reproduced for the hands on program for schools visiting the exhibit. As the exhibit toured North America, he worked with a number of the hosting institutions to train staff and provide special events programming. At the Denver Museum of Science & Nature, he both provided a number of additional objects, but also consulted on their secondary presentations.
Go to further information on 'Vikings - North Atlantic Saga'
As well as working on the international 'Vikings -North Atlantic Saga', Darrell also consulted on educational and outreach aspects of the Canadian companion exhibit, 'Full Circle - First Contact' the same year. Along with this background work, he produced a number of pieces for the hands on part of the exhibit - reproductions and replicas of objects from the Viking Age. Again he worked on the presentation and background training for a number of the hosting museums. At the Woodstock Museum (Ontario) he had a major role in the physical installation of the exhibit.
Go to further information on 'Full Circle - First Contact'
In spring of 2000, and in connection with the 'Vikings 1000' celebrations in Newfoundland, Darrell designed and served as Primary Instructor for the course - 'Interpreting the Viking Age'. The aim of this intensive program was to train local staff to become historic interpreters and physical demonstrators for the upcoming 'Norstead' historic entertainment at L'Anse aux Meadows. Content included the history of the Viking Age, related craft techniques and interpretive methods. As well as structuring the overall program, the project entailed the writing of a 200 page training manual. The course included 40 students and ran over six weeks.
For the presentation of 'Full Circle' at the Cranbrook Institute of Science (Bloomfield Hills MI), Darrell was contracted to design, produce and install a complete companion exhibit. 'The World of the Norse' was a 1000 square foot room setting styled exhibit that included some 175 individual objects, from ship rivets to a small building.
Go to further information on 'The World of the Norse'
Work in museum programming has included consulting on a
number of smaller regional level exhibits. "Once Upon a
Time - Medieval Exhibit" for the Bruce County Museum
in Southhampton, Ont. (Running from June 25, 1999.) As
well as advising on the overall content and design of the
exhibit itself, a group of about 35 individual artifact
reproductions were created. A student interpreter was
trained in basic hand craft skills to bring life to what
was originally a mainly text based exhibit.
Go to further information on the Once Upon a Time
- Medieval Exhibit
Since 2001 a major area personal research
has been into ancient bloomery iron production. As a
result of this work, Darrell has gained direct experience
in the techniques of Experimental Archaeology. In turn
this has lead to academic presentations with
demonstrations, workshops, formal papers and journal
articles. Related to Iron Smelting, he has travelled to
conferences and special events in Canada, the USA,
Denmark, Scotland and Poland.
Go to further information about Experimental Iron
Historic Reproductions are created using production methods that duplicate those used in the past, resulting in objects are often indistinguishable from the originals in your collection. Such 'working tools' are ideal for your interpretive programs, preserving precious artifacts and allowing for freedom of use. Items regularly produced include cook ware, camp ware, and small tools, as well as larger pieces such as fireplace cranes and axes. Copper and brass bowls are all hand formed. Such pieces can either be lower cost "generic" items, or exact copies of specific artifacts. Competitive quotes are available for individual pieces or major restoration projects.
Museum Services include on site training programs and professional demonstrations. As our rural past becomes more distant, it becomes more and more difficult to find staff with even basic blacksmithing skills. Why not utilize years of experience and observation of many living history programs over a wide range of historic periods to the benefit of your staff.
On Site Training by The Wareham Forge will provide
your staff with the knowledge and skills they will need to
face the public with confidence:
For further information about what video materials are available, check Educational videos
Professional demonstrations can be provided for your special event. Displays use period equipment and first person interpretation to bring the 'art and mystery of the smith' to life. Past experience has proven that a working blacksmith is of great interest to the visiting public. (For practical reasons, full sized forging demos are limited to central Ontario!)
For further information about on-site demonstrations check Demonstrations
Mediaeval Reproductions are available, featuring pieces based on Norse and Celtic designs . A major product line are pendants and pins of lead free pewter, strung on leather thongs with solid glass beads. Each of these pieces is individually cast in hand cut soapstone moulds, the same method used 1000 years ago! Various 'everyday' items in metal and wood, and arms & armour are available as well. Edged tools and weapons are all properly hardened and tempered to suit the function of the specific cutting edge. The Wareham Forge produces blades of layered steel ('Damascus'), especially Norse style pattern welding.
Further information can be found on : Norse Trade Goods and Layered Steel Knives
"Reproductions from the Collections", based on your specific collection, can be designed exclusively for your gift shop. Such items are created with special attention to detail and accuracy. These pieces remain exclusive to your individual institution. Although these items tend to have higher prices, they are attractive to the collector and your discriminating customers.
Some photographs of past reproduction work can be found in the Gallery
the Wareham Forge is not only one of the very few working blacksmith's shops in Ontario, the blending of historic styles it utilizes is unique. Put this extensive experience in technique, history and interpretation to work for your institution. Please contact (via phone, post or e-mail) to discuss your specific reproduction or gift shop requirements and to arrange a visit to your museum or historic site to examine the work first hand.
last revised 2018