A group of blacksmith volunteers presented the Lacombe Legion with a handmade, blacksmith wreath in honour of veterans and soldiers.
The wreath, made by Lacombe & District Historical Society volunteers, was made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Remembrance Poppy. The main wreath is made of mild steal and the poppies are designed after the ones used at the Ypres Cenotaph in Ypres, Belgium in 2016.
The labour of love was started by Henrietta Verway a local blacksmith.
“They did an all-call for blacksmiths around the world to make poppies, ship them there and then were going to complete it there in Belgium. All the volunteer blacksmiths here in Lacombe made poppies and we had some board members make poppies as well,” said Verway. “We started them and we didn’t know what to do with them, they were there for a few years until the summer before COVID, thats when I decided to start designing a wreath.”
The volunteers utilized the Lacombe Blacksmith Shop to work on the wreath, the poppies were started by herself and the blacksmith and museum volunteers Bill Marquart, Gordon Peters, Cale Chambers, Cole Broughton, Nathan Stone and Karl Beller. Verway’s husband Kenny Fuller painted the poppies.
It all came together over the course of a two years and about 80 hours by Verway and the other blacksmiths at both the Lacombe Blacksmith Shop and her forge Iron Sunset Forge.
“That back piece is harder to make than it looks, it was all free hand,” she said, adding they used old blacksmitthing techniques to create it. “I did most of it in the museum when I was volunteering. A couple other blacksmiths thought I was crazy.”
Verwey has been a blacksmith for over 20 years now, she completed the Artist Blacksmithing course at Sir Sandford Fleming College in 2002 and then apprenticed with Robert Vaughan for over four years and also completed the welding course at Red Deer College in 2014.
She has also been volunteering at the Lacombe Museum and Blacksmith Shop since 2013 , while teaching at Olds College in the continuing education program. Sometimes she gets time to sneak out to her own forge.
“Living and traveling all over Canada I have soaked in the many diverse aspects of this multicultural country. These life experiences are reflected in my artwork. I am always trying to improve myself and as I continue to grow in this art form, I have discovered the process is just as exciting as the end products,” she said.
The wreath was presented to the Lacombe Legion Branch #79 during the Lacombe Remembrance Day Ceremony on Nov. 11.