Cannon maker: Life’s a blast for Lanark County cannon maker


Tony Walsh has lived in Lanark County’s Watson’s Corners since 1978; a lover of its geography and its folks.

“Lanark County is kind of like a land-locked Cape Breton,” he smiles.

“Good folks. Good space. To me, it’s heaven.”

After a 30-year navy profession in Canada’s Armed Forces, the previous weapons technician and longtime, gifted blacksmith retired to this space.  

Or so he thought.

Walsh, now 77, has by no means been one to place his ft up, or decelerate. He’s too busy having a blast, exploring his explosive ardour for historical past.

And cannons.

“As a blacksmith, I began doing steel work and making components for somebody who was promoting cannons,” he says.

However when that individual went out of enterprise, Walsh acquired an thought.

“I had an entire bunch of cannon stuff that I had made up, and I assumed I’m going to must promote it. And to promote it, I ended making the complete cannon,” he chuckled.

“And that’s the way it began.”

Earlier than lengthy, Walsh was taking orders from throughout North America.  Civil Struggle reenactors and museums needed cannons.

So did Parks Canada, Sign HIll in Newfoundland, and the Halifax Citadel.


For forty years, Walsh has been fashioning cannons to the very best specs, utilizing historic technical drawings and written descriptions from the period.  

Gracing his property at the moment is a six pound breach loading rifle, modelled after a cannon designed by Britain’s Sir William Armstrong within the 1850’s.

“I actually take pleasure in it as a result of I attempt to duplicate Armstrong’s strategies,” says Walsh.

“The person was a genius. The barrel was not one piece.  One is shrunk on one other, so the within barrel is 5 ten hundreds of an inch larger than the opening it’s getting in.  I could make an Armstrong, from begin to end, in about two months,” he says.

“Simply by itself, that’s $22 thousand.”

Whereas most purchasers don’t launch projectiles from Walsh’s cannons (it’s extra in regards to the bang and smoke), his weapons are able to firing.

His accomplice mountain rifle is used to fireplace at targets by reenactor teams within the US.

“It needs to be correct as a result of they hearth it dwell,” he says.

Tony Walsh

Vintage equipment is significant to manufacturing in Walsh’s store.  There’s a century outdated lathe and an enormous energy hammer, which saves the blacksmith time and vitality when pounding metal.

At 77, Walsh does really feel the wear and tear and tear of the job.  Constructing each element, together with the big wood wheels, may be bodily taxing.

“A lot of the wheels I work with are about 5 ft tall and weigh about 200 and fifty kilos, so there’s no means you’re going to toss them round,” he says.

Regardless of the challenges of the job, seeing his weapons work makes all of it worthwhile.

“I’m having a ball,” he laughs.

So Tony Walsh’s journey continues.

“Till I croak,” he smiles.

Appears there’s nonetheless a lot of hearth left in Lanark County’s cannon maker.  His retirement should wait.

“I wish to work to inside three days of them shovelling sand in my face.”


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