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Les Forges de Montreal: Saving the blacksmith trade and its heritage site

WATCH: Les Forges de Montréal is keeping the blacksmith trade alive in a heritage building dating back to 1887. After years of uncertainty, the city has now taken steps to save the site.

The non-for-profit organization Les Forges de Montreal celebrated a victory on Friday.

The City of Montreal announced that they would save the heritage site and remove a clause originally put in place by the former Tremblay administration.

“We’re confirming in writing that the city is negotiating with La Société immobilière du Canada, the SIC, which is a federal instance to have the building and its infrastructures ceded to the city,” said Anne-Marie Sigouin, councillor for the South West and Ville-Marie boroughs.

READ MORE: Les Forges de Montreal blacksmiths face eviction by the city

The historic industrial building was built in 1887 by renowned Montreal architects Menard and Perrault.

Made of typical Montreal grey stone, the heritage site was home to the city’s first pumping station.

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According to the heritage project manager, sites like these need to be cared for and given a new life without erasing history.

“Heritage is not like a museum piece. The heritage has to be alive and people can interact with the heritage and that’s what we permit here,” said Mardjane Amin, heritage project manager.

READ MORE: Blacksmith organization’s future still in limbo after meeting with city

Founder Mathieu Collette is the last of the longest generation of blacksmiths in New France history.

His goal – to help preserve the heritage site and teach the next generation of blacksmiths.

“This is 20 years of waiting,” he said. “And I want to spend the next 30 years to preserve and teach my trade.”

Many blacksmith techniques were lost during the industrial revolution.

Collette studies metal artifacts and the techniques used to recreate them. His goal is to create a museum where all of his studies and re-creations help educate and serve generations of blacksmiths to come.

READ MORE: Les Forges de Montréal, city to meet over blacksmith group’s future in heritage building

Les Forges de Montreal will have to wait until their current lease expires in 2021 to sign a new lease with the city in order to secure their future.

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A documentary on Collette’s fight to save Les Forges de Montreal is premiering Friday at the Cinema of the Museum, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.