Sharp Saturday






We had planned to go to a knife show in Toronto on a recent Saturday.  The son’s medical emergency on the Friday afternoon seemed to put that in jeopardy, but when he survived the Attack of the Killer Kidney Stone, we decided to proceed, with the grandson and fiancée, and him well medicated.

The regular Canadian Knifemakers Guild spring show has been suffering, so, this year, they decided to do something different.  They waited till mid-summer, moved it downtown, to an upscale hotel, and made it an invitational Art Knife Show.

This show had as many makers as the usual one, but instead of tables with 50 or 100 hunters, skinners, or steak knives, each maker displayed only 1 or 2, or a few, but worth what a whole table of those others were.  Prices started in the high hundreds of dollars.  The most expensive single knife I saw went for $14,500.

There were makers from Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas, as well as France, Germany, Austria, Brazil and South Africa.  Most shipped their knives ahead, some using the Post Office, others by courier.  One guy packed his two knives with his socks and underwear, and checked his baggage with the airline.  TSA will X-ray it, but only worry if there are firearms or an explosive device.

Almost all of these knives were decorated with gold, silver, various jewels, ivory or titanium.  One maker also does his own beautiful scrimshaw.  I have read about the South African maker in my knife trade magazines for years.  Many of these makers can afford to make such expensive knives because they already have prestigious jobs.  They do it for the satisfaction, the creativity, and the bragging rights.

The top Canadian maker is a Nuclear Physicist, somewhat more than a Homer Simpson.  The fellow from South Africa displayed a folder with exquisitely carved hippo-tooth ivory.  It’s easy for him. He’s the country’s best dentist.  Another, with a price tag of $4500, was made of 4.5 Billion year-old meteorite-based steel.

Despite any decoration, or price, he insists that all of his creations are working knives.  A lady asked him if “the meteorite” was sharp.  He picked up a scrap of paper, and shaved a couple of strips off it.  The knives in the teaser photo at the top are his.  For those interested, return tomorrow when I will publish a mostly photo post, with shots I took at the show.


After we had sated our eyeballs, it was time to think about our stomachs.  I was willing to try either of the hamburger/French fry wagons across the street.  We couldn’t afford to eat in this hotel. The grandson has a friend with Toronto relatives, who has treated him to downtown tours.  He insisted that we walk a couple of blocks over to the Eaton Center, and he treated us to a lunch at an upscale burger joint in the lower level.  We got to see the impressive old 1850 sandstone City Hall, framed against the new monstrosity, which looks like a flying saucer coming in for a landing in a bay of the Mother Ship.



Watching TV out of British Columbia recently, I saw an ad for Mucho Burrito Grill.  My regulars know my fascination for Tex/Mex food, 🌯 so I researched the chain online, and tried to find out where they were.  The “locate restaurants” button didn’t locate anything for me.  Instead, it asked me where I was, and offered to show nearby outlets.

I specified a 500 kilometer range, and asked about Vancouver.  The map showed several in Washington State, and a covey in B.C.  Similar queries showed a bunch, centered on Edmonton, Alberta, and also Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  There were only two in Manitoba, both in Winnipeg.  I could find nothing in Ontario or further east.

Big Smoke Burgers’ burgers are served on actual plates, with metal cutlery, and their fountain drinks in glass glasses, a refreshing change from the usual food-court cardboard and Styrofoam.  As I sat, inhaling their gourmet creation, with mushroom gravy, and spicy cole-slaw dressings, I looked up across the huge eating area, and my eyes fell on a Mucho Burrito Grill.

Since it sat in the direction of the washrooms, when I was finished eating and wanted to wash up, I stopped over to investigate.  Mostly, it was as much of a disappointment as the Del Taco restaurant in Detroit.  I could get as good or better at Taco Bell….all except for a plate of nachos a customer carried away, that actually looked as good as the advertising picture – perhaps if we do this again next year.

Since it had begun raining outside, we decided to make our way back the few blocks to the subway through the warren of underground tunnels and shopping areas beneath the streets and buildings.  Fiancée works at Starbucks, and needed a coffee fix.  She used her employee discount card, and stopped at a Starbucks beneath one bank building.  We walked to the next building – and there was another Starbucks.  We turned, and walked under the street to the next building – and there, was another Starbucks.

Starbucks makes good coffee, and runs a nice corporation, but I regard them as pretentious.  These outlets were all in the financial district, beneath big banks and investment houses.  You decide.

All in all, a most enjoyable and educational day.  Pics, or it didn’t happen, so remember to come back tomorrow for photographic proof.

9 thoughts on “Sharp Saturday

  1. Jim Wheeler says:

    Since reading your blog for some time now, Archon, I’ve become familiar with your knife hobby. At first I thought it rather unusual, but I’m beginning to see some of the fascination. Your post here inspired a search and I found an article in Forbes about knives. Turns out, Forbes assembled a panel that methodically and thoughtfully searched for the top twenty tools of all time, defined by rules that excluded complex machines like, say, cars. The top #1 tool: the knife.

    I recalled reading that the very first metal used by humans is thought to be copper, and <a href=""the Forbes article confirmed it. Here’s the pithy part:

    About 10,000 years ago, modern humans discovered how to make knives out of copper, and around 5,000 years ago, craftsmen in the Near East began to make them out of bronze. These early tools closely resembled the knives we use today, consisting of a piece of metal that was sharp on one end–the blade–and dull on the other–the tang. Usually a wooden or bone handle would be crafted around the tang to make it easier to hold. Later on, knives would be made out of iron and steel.

    Knives were such important tools that they were frequently decorated and displayed proudly by their users. In Saxon England, knives called scramasax were worn everywhere, perhaps as an indicator that the bearer was a free man, and were often intricately ornamented. One thousand-year-old example survives to this day, with the inscription “Gebereht owns me” clearly visible on its blade.

    Since they can be used for cutting, slashing, spearing and pricking, knives have known more uses than it would be possible to count. But they’ve probably made their biggest impact in helping feed us. For millennia, knives were essential for hunting and butchering animals.

    And once the food was prepared, knives also were used during meals to spear food and raise it to your mouth. Of course, having everyone armed with a deadly weapon at the dinner table could lead to trouble. After forks became popular as an eating utensil, dinner knives were generally designed with a dull tip, reducing the chance of accidentally–or intentionally–spearing the guy next to you.

    In 1669, in a bid to cut down on violence, King Louis XIV of France decreed all pointed knives on the street or the dinner table illegal, and ordered all knife points ground down. Today, a similar movement is afoot in England, where doctors are campaigning for a ban on long-pointed kitchen knives to reduce the number stabbing deaths.

    Over the centuries, the knife has taken many other forms from the short and sharp dinner knife. There’s the machete, long and broad, used for cutting through brush. The dirk is a long Scottish fighting knife. The serrated bread knife cuts with a sawing motion instead of a downward force, keeping your sandwich from getting smooshed. And the large-bladed, distinctively shaped Bowie Knife–designed by and named for legendary American pioneer and soldier Jim Bowie–is used for everything from camping to fishing to fighting.

    And even though it’s been a very long time since the first knives were crafted out of stone, we haven’t given up on that ancient manufacturing technique. Ultra-sharp scalpels used in delicate procedures like eye surgery are still crafted by hand from volcanic glass called obsidian.

    Hmm. Were there any obsidian knives at the show?


    • Archon's Den says:

      Not at this particular show, although I have seen them at other shows. They require a quite different type of maker. The daughter got a knapped agate knife at a pow-wow last year. Photos here.


      • Jim Wheeler says:

        Archon, the page I last gave you about inserting a link wasn’t very clear, so don’t worry. It’s not intuitive. For one thing, the URL address gets inserted in quotes and not the highlighted text that forms the link as one might expect. Also note that there’s a space between the initial a and the following href . Try this page.


  2. benzeknees says:

    I have had a kidney stone & I bet your son had to be WELL medicated to carry on. It’s not so bad when the stone is stationary, but let it start moving & it’s like hell on earth. I used to bury my head in a pillow & scream from the pain & I have a very high tolerance for pain! I hope they are able to break your son’s stone up with lasers into gravel so he can pass it on his own. I had to have mine removed in hospital with the claw up the ureter (under anasthesia thank goodness!).


    • Archon's Den says:

      The son’s pain and internal discomfort have completely disappeared. They told him in the ER that he might pass it on his own, if he drank lots of liquids, which he did. We would have thought, though, that any further movement would have been noticeable. His urologist should have the CAT-scan results, but he won’t phone them, and they haven’t called us yet. We hope for the best, for him, and for you too. 😀


    • shimoniac says:

      Yeah, they medicated me with pharmacy-grade naproxen, and I appear to have passed the stone all by myself. I went to the hospital on Aug 26, for an ultrasound. They forwarded the results to a urologist for me. He should have gotten them by Aug 29, and he’ll tell me if they need to do any more. Here’s hoping.. 🙂


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