This article was translated by John R. Bopp
An interesting story out of the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, just off the Newfoundland coast, by Linda Saci on the La 1ere website.
We’ve spoken about this tiny archipelago on numerous occasions, as its flag and shield feature the ikurriña, as a reminder of the islanders’ origins (you can also see it on the flag of Johnson County, Wyoming, for the same reason).
The Basque presence on the islands, from north of the Pyrenees (the islands are the last French territory in North America), has been important since the arrival of the first colonists. This presence has continued to the present, as you can see in the numerous articles we’ve written about them, which tell us surprising stories about the ability to maintain of the Basque community’s ability to maintain the connection to its roots even when thousands of miles from their homeland.
This story is no less surprising. It’s about a smith from Montreal who’s traveled to these islands to show them how to make a Biscayne ax in the traditional way; that is, as it was done two centuries ago. He’ll do so in a traditional forge, La Forge Lebailly, which has been restored in Saint Pierre.
Mathieu Collette, the smith, was surprised to find out that on one of the islands of the archipelago, Île aux Marins, they have found axes made with the same techniques he’ll be showing in his class.
By the way, when we hear about the value of these axes as an instrument of trade, we couldn’t help but remember one of the stories we most enjoyed writing, the one about the Basque ax that was found in some excavations of a Huron nation village in the stratum dating to 1500. It’s an amazing story that shows the importance and influence of Basque sailors on the coast of North America.
This is also a great opportunity to describe the El Pobal forge, in Biscay, with 500 years of history. Check out our article on it here. At that forge, many of the axes Mathieu Collette made last Sunday were given shape; we’re sure some of them even ended up in North America.
La 1ere – 17/9/2018 – Francia
La réplique d’une hache basque ancienne fabriquée devant public à la forge Lebailly
La forge Lebailly a ouvert ses portes au public dans le cadre des journées européennes du patrimoine, dimanche 16 septembre 2018. Mathieu Collette, fondateur des Forges de Montréal, a forgé une réplique d’une hache biscayenne, d’origine basque, à cette occasion. Un travail de plusieurs heures.