Had coffee with a friend and veteran clothier at his shop in downtown Victoria a few weeks ago to talk about the Shinekits project Jamie and I were launching this month. We got to chatting about our decision to carry pocket knives. I'd just discovered Grohmann knives in Pictou, Nova Scotia and was absolutely delighted we had the chance to start selling their Canadian made Rosewood folding lock blade. I didn't have the samples in hand yet but i did have some shots on the iPhone to show him.
"You know, the true sign of any gentleman was having a pocket knife." He said. "Back then the only man who could afford to keep a horse was a gentleman. They were a tremendously ruinous expense and only the wealthiest people could have them. If you had a horse you had to carry a pocket knife to dig stones out of their hooves to keep them from going lame. Carrying a good folding knife was the measure of a man."
I don't do horses. They're not my thing. Had one go nuts on me my first time in the saddle up in Wiarton, Ontario and got taken for a terrifying gallop through the woods. Apparently they don't always stop when you pull on the reigns and say Whoah! Got thrown off hard and ended up cooking several rubbery shifts on a mix of Midol and Jameson's at my old restaurant for two weeks afterwards. Given my aversion to further equine pursuits, I didn't see myself digging any stones out of hooves in the foreseeable future.
Yet, lately I've begun carrying a pocket knife again. I've got my grandfather's old ivory-handled 3 inch single folder. It's faded and cracked on one side and the high carbon steel is a dull pallid grey. My gravy can this thing take an edge. I keep it shaving sharp with an Arkansas stone and an old belt for a strop. I’ve done a few too many sharpness tests and now I’ve got bare patches on my arm.
With three little girls on the go it certainly comes in handy. In any given month there's at least two birthday parties to attend. That means bags of chips and gummy bears to cut open, and slab cakes from Costco to slice into. For our own birthday parties we burn CD's of the girl's favourite pop songs and print off custom covers that need cropping with a steel ruler to fit into the jewel case. That’s a fun task to do 18 times 30 minutes before a party. I've eased off the brake callipers on my eldest's BMX when she's out shredding at the Cecilia Ravine park and carved many a good marshmallow roasting stick for cookouts on the beach at Parksville. I’ve cleaned up 6 year old fingernails dirty enough to grow potatoes in and I’ve dug splinters out of little feet that didn’t listen when they were climbing on driftwood logs at Willows Beach without their sandals. A gentleman may no longer need to carry a knife these days but a dad sure does. Now I just need to use it to cut the foil off this bottle of Tempranillo and pour myself a glass while I barbecue these ribs! Happy Father’s day to all.