Leander Gole was an octogenarian featured in a photographic exhibit a few years ago of Canadians in their eighties. The write-up told of his lifelong work as a blacksmith in the Village of West Montrose, not far from Kitchener-Waterloo.
I was captivated by the strength he exuded, the set of his mouth, the shock of hair, the powerful hands hooked onto his braces.
When I finished the oil painting, I asked a visiting realtor to take a look, curious to find out whether she knew him, knowing that at one time she ran the general store in West Montrose. As she crossed the room to where the oil painting was sitting, she exclaimed, “Why! That’s my old friend, Leander Gole!”
She asked how much I wanted for the oil painting . . . and immediately cried out, “Sold!” The kinky signature of the blacksmith was reproduced on a brass nameplate. Later, the realtor took the painting along to show the old smithy when she went to visit him ~ 104 years old ~ in a nursing home.
We have since become good friends with the owner of The Old Smithy. At Christmas, we get to see the blacksmith again as he presides over sumptuous banquets around her long, candlelit dining table. He listens in on the conversation while flickering firelight transforms it into a Charles Dickens setting.