In Canada, in the 1860s, every village and town had its resident tinsmith who usually set up shop in the business area and made a wide variety of practical tin goods for household and farm use. In such a shop, one could find such useful items as pails, basins, scoops, candle sconces, oil lamps, and even tin bathtubs. Containers of all sizes and shapes can be found in our village tinshop. Even stove-pipes and eavestroughing were being made locally in most rural communities. Over time, his bright, light and relatively inexpensive tinware became a popular replacement for pewter, wood and earthenware.
The tinsmith's raw material came from Britain. Large boxes of tin-plated iron were shipped to North America, already cut into thin sheets approximately 10" by 14". The tin mines of Cornwall, England, still provided most of the world's exported tin and did so until the late 1870s. Tinsmiths occasionally made some objects out of sheet copper or sheet brass, especially where frequent contact with water might make the use of tin inappropriate. Most tinsmiths sealed their joints and seams with a solder that was half tin and half lead, bonded with the aid of a flux.
A visit to the village tinshop provides an opportunity to browse through the many articles made there and displayed on shelves. Visitors can purchase some of these articles in the village gift shop.
Watch the tinsmith or one of his assistants work on some new piece and get some advice on how to keep your own tinware bright and rust-free. You might even be talked into putting a modern tin roof on your house, one which will last for many years.