Although Andrew (Andy) Riggs grew up around boats, he didn’t start building any until the age of 73. Born in Port au Bras on the Burin Peninsula in 1941, Andy worked as a welder at the Marystown Shipyard. In 2005, he moved to Salmonier, Burin, where he began building boats. “I don’t know why I started at it all… I just wanted to see could I do it, is all. I just started to build her, that’s all. I came in here [the workshop] the winter and drew it on the floor and then I got some timbers in the woods… a lot of work to building a boat,” he said.
His first boat, launched in 2015, was a 27-foot trap skiff. Built from spruce and juniper, Andy harvested all the wood himself. “Everything come out of the woods…It’s a job to get timbers for them, eh? I’ve been all over the place… It’s a job to find the crooked ones,” he said. “Andrew spent hundreds of hours in the woods searching for the perfect trees,” said his sister Pauline. Named “Our Star” to honour the memory of his late granddaughter, the boat was outfitted with a 20-horsepower Lister engine and launched on July 4, 2015.” She’s a good stable boat, that one,” he said.
Andy’s second boat, a 24-foot motor boat, or motor punt, was launched in 2017. Under construction at time of our interview in 2016, Andrew said that “she’ll be just as good or better…She’s a different boat that one. More flatter on the bottom. The other one was more rounder.” She was outfitted with 4-horsepower Acadia engine and launched on July 22, 2017.
Born in Cottrell’s Cove, Notre Dame Bay, Lloyd Boone moved to Point of Bay in 1977 when he married Cybil Philpott. He learned how to build boats from from his father-in-law, Wilfred Philpott, a carpenter and farmer who learned how to build from his father, Stanley. “In ’76 I started. That was my first boat. [Cybil’s] father showed me how to build it … it was a speed boat.”
“These are some of the tools I use,” Eric Bourden said standing behind a table of handplanes. “I used them… My great-grandfather probably used them. I know my grandfather did, and father.” In his shed, Eric show me relics from generations of Bourdens in Bayview, Twillingate. Some of the handplanes he estimates to be 150 years old.
Josiah Bourden, Eric’s great-grandfather, moved from Durrell on the northern coast of South Twillingate Island to Bayview (Maunel’s Cove), a distance of about five kilometers over land. His grandfather, John Bourden, was an inshore fisherman, and his father, Andrew Bourden, spent his life as a schooner captain sailing out of Twillingate. Born to Andrew and Sophia (nee Jenkins) in 1935, Eric made a living fishing for lobster, doing carpentry work and operating a school bus. Read more →
In June of 1892 John William Dorey was born in the community of Kyars Cove on Black Island, Notre Dame Bay. A fisherman all his life, John built boats as a means to supplement his income and constructed the motorboat featured here in the 1950’s.
Calvert Meadus was born in Loreburn, Trinity Bay on December 23, 1927. As a boy Calvie recalls watching his father Keid, Uncle Lige [Elijah] Price, and others as they built boats, using a three piece mould to shape every frame before assembling onto the keel.
Learning the Craft
“There was an old fella down there, Uncle Lige Price, he used to be in always building boats. That’s all he done, most all his lifetime. I used to watch him, and then I thought I’d build a boat too. When I started I was fifteen, I wasn’t yet sixteen. I was sixteen before I got her finished.”
Edgar Butt was born in Glovertown in 1926. Son of Joseph and Patience (nee Greening), Edgar was the last of their children and the only to be born in Glovertown. His parents moved their family from Flat Island to Glovertown in 1921, with the promise of work with the pulp and paper mill that was scheduled to open the following year.
At the age of fourteen, Edgar began working at a wood working factory owned by Arthur J. House. He worked with House for number of years in Glovertown, St. John’s, and briefly in Corner Brook, before returning to Glovertown with his wife Patricia to raise their family.
Max Pollard was born in 1930 in Harbour Deep, a fishing and logging community on Newfoundland’s northern peninsula. One of eight children, Max began fishing with his father when he was 10 years old.
“My father had a motor boat that we’d use for fishing, about 23′ long,” says Max. “We were using hand and line then – baited hooks,” he adds. Max left school at the age of 12 to work with his father, fishing in the summer and logging in the winter. “It was year-round,” he says, “I didn’t stop.”
Boats were built in the spring of the year in Harbour Deep, “every fisherman would build their own” – sometimes with a helping hand – “because no one could afford to buy one anyway.”
David A. Taylor describes the three-piece mould method used by boatbuilders in Winterton, Trinity Bay. Similar to whole-moulding, Taylor describes these moulds as, “a wooden, three-piece adjustable template used to draw the shapes of the three principle timber pairs”.
One of three methods of design Taylor observed among Winterton builders during his research in the 1970s, the three-pieces were referred to collectively as “moulds”.