The fur traders’ summer rendezvous along the shore of Lake Superior at the Grand Portage National Monument is a time when those skilled in the essential arts of the past practice their art and show-off a bit for the rest of us. Among those doing so at this summer’s gathering was a hardworking blacksmith.
I wish I had pictures of the hand-pumped bellows he used to regulate the fire. It was pretty amazing; both because it was so large and because he operated it so smoothly at the same time he was working a piece over the flame. The task seemed so exacting and yet he seemed so at ease. It’s what one expects of a skilled craftsman, but it still a wonderful thing to see.
Grand Portage National Monument is located just outside the city of Grand Portage in the Grand Portage Indian Reservation. The site’s Heritage Center is open all year, with the reconstructed depot buildings open seasonally. The Grand Portage Rendezvous is held each year on the second full weekend of August. There is no charge to visit the site or attend the Rendezvous.