Mr. Frank Amirault of East Pubnico, who people always called Frank à Ben, celebrated his 93rd birthday last 5 November. However, despite his age, his intellectual faculties have not weakened. Whether talking about past experiences in boat construction, previous drownings that took place in the history of the village, generations that preceded him or his relatives, his marvelous memory would grant you, without hesitation, everything you wanted to know.
Frank spent most of his life as a blacksmith. It was, after all, a tradition in his family. His father Benjamin was a blacksmith, his grandfather André had been a blacksmith, and his great grandfather had begun the tradition. The latter was Louis Amirault and he was the son of Ange Amirault, who, upon returning from exile in 1766, was one of the founders of East Pubnico. Ange had seven sons, including Louis. In Louis’s family there was André, who was the father of Vital, Henri, and Benjamin, Frank’s father.
Frank Amirault’s forge.This old forging mill, in which many men worked, built by our ancestor Louis, was located close to the harbour below the house where Frank lived. It was a small, simple, unpainted building. In the past, the principal role of one of these forges was to provide the iron fittings required for the construction of fishing vessels. At that time and for many years, large quantities were built along both shores of Pubnico Harbour and at Pubnico Head. Frank adds that there were once two other forges in the village: one on the land below Toussaint Amirault’s house; another on the land below Louis LeBlanc’s house. Both have long since disappeared.
Following is another detail Mr. Amirault revealed to us. The oldest ones among us would remember an old blacksmith by the name of Ben Hamilton who lived at Pubnico Head. Mr. Amirault says that this blacksmith had worked for his grandfather, André, when he was young and it was there that he learned his trade. Ben Hamilton’s forge was passed down to his son Delbert. It was demolished several years ago to be replaced by a garage and today it is the place where the Creamy Treat is situated. The Hamiltons, Mr. Amirault tells us, were originally from the village of Kemptville (located north of Tusket).
When did Frank cease working in the forge? When they stopped making oxen shoes and fixing wheels for carts, says Frank. He never married and always remained in their ancestral home with his younger brother Stan and his wife Bridget. He had six sisters and two brothers: Maggie, Eva, Némerise, Lisa, Blanche, Olive, Denis, and Stan.
One final detail about our nonagenarian: in all his life he only had one pair of glasses which he bought one day in Yarmouth for the sum of 50 cents!