During the mid-twentieth century, there was a type of boat found on the Burin peninsula called a “swampbottom,” or a “swamp” for short. “Most people claim that the swamp was a pretty stable boat,” said Dr. Ed Mayo who shares an interest in traditional wooden boats, “and there are a few people that said they were properly named: to swamp.”
Learn about everyday life in outport communities across Newfoundland and Labrador.
Do you have memories of swamps boats on the Burin Peninsula? Do you have a swamps model? Do you know of a swamps boats stored in a stage and long forgotten? Our Folklorist needs your help! We will be travelling to the Burin Peninsula next week to collect memories, photos or other items related to these boats.
To share your photos or memories, please call Crystal at (709) 699-9570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Sheehan was born in Benoit’s Cove in the Bay of Islands in 1937. “I lived just up past where the church is at,” he explained, “Everyone had their houses close to the water in them time, eh? I spent all my evenings down here, there used to a store over there. There’s still a store there now…” Read more
Weather lore in coastal Newfoundland, has always been a valuable part of everyday life for fishermen eking out a living on the ocean. A determining factor for safe voyages, understanding the various indicators of weather was crucial for sailing out to or heading home from the fishing grounds.
Sam Sheppard’s Lark Harbour Dory
Earlier this year, WBMNL Folklorists Crystal Braye and I travelled to the West Coast in search of the Bay of Islands dory and her builders. As we turned off the Trans-Canada Highway and drove along Route 450, the unique orange and green dories could be seen scattered along the coastline. We continued to the end of the road and found ourselves at a wharf in Little Port in the midst of lobster season. After explaining the purpose of our visit to the nearby locals, there was one name that came up repeatedly: Sam Sheppard.
Boat Building in La Poile Bay
Located on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, La Poile Bay runs northward for some nine miles from its entrance. As you continue into the harbor, the bay is divided into several smaller bays, including North Bay and East Bay, with Dolman’s Cove separating the two. North Bay and East Bay are both well protected, with East Bay being much easier to access and closer to the cod fishing grounds.
St. Lewis (Fox Harbour), Labrador
St. Lewis, formerly known as Fox Harbour, was one of the earliest locations recorded by Europeans on maps of the New World. Depicted as Ilha de Frey Luis by Portuguese explorers on 1502 charts of Labrador’s coastline, the area’s sheltered harbour with access to fishing grounds and migrating seals made it an ideal location for both migratory European fishers and native Inuit inhabitants. In the eighteenth century, Europeans began to settle permanently and the community became a vibrant fishing centre on the southwest coast of Labrador.
Bay of Islands Dory
Boats Beyond Fishing in Herring Neck
“Everywhere we went we went by boat because there was no way off the island other than that,” said Max Hussey about Ship Island, Herring Neck in Notre Dame Bay.
Growing up in the 1950s, Max recalls a time when boats were not only used to earn a living, but for transportation, recreation and everything in between.
Loss of the Schooner Little Jap
In summer of 1909 the schooner Little Jap left from Deer Island to fish on the Labrador Coast. She returned home with “six hundred quintals of salt bulk cod” at the end of October, a little later than was usual.
Salmon Fishing on the Gander River
Known for its wild Atlantic salmon, the Gander River hosts thousands of tourists from all over the world each season. Located in central Newfoundland, the Gander River is the third largest river on the island and is internationally recognized as a world-class sports hunting and angling destination. The river flows through Gander Lake and past the towns of Appleton and Glenwood before draining into the Atlantic Ocean at Gander Bay.
The Gander River
In 2013, the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador travelled to Glenwood, Appleton, and Gander Bay to learn about the unique Gander River Boat. Designed and modified by generations of boat builders, these boats are specially crafted for the rapids and shallow waters of the Gander River.
Once necessary for travel between the coast and inland settlements, Gander River Boats are now used for recreational salmon fishing and travel to cabins and outfitter camps along the river.
Originally known as Bloody Bay, and later as Alexander Bay, Glovertown was first settled in the early 19th Century. Rich in timber, by the end of the century at least ten sawmills were in operation and the area had developed a reputation for producing schooners. The construction of the Newfoundland Railway and establishment of Alexander Bay Station in 1894 helped to establish the town as a service centre for the surrounding communities.
Deer Island was once a fishing community located on the north side of Bonavista Bay. Labeled “Popplestone Island” on modern navigational charts, Deer Island was home to seventeen families before it was resettled between 1952 and 1955.
Seal Hunting in the Grey Islands
Each spring, Jack Casey of Conche would set out in his rodney and row twelve to fourteen miles to the Grey Islands in search of seals. “It was a long row,” he remembered. “The worst part was when you wanted to come home,” he laughs, “if you could find seals to chase it’d be alright, but sometimes we wouldn’t see a seal for miles and miles.”
Prior to the seventeenth century, Winterton (originally named Scilly Cove) was seasonally inhabited by migratory fishers working the waters of Trinity Bay. At the end of the fishing season, fishermen would return to England with their catch.