During a visit to Newfoundland’s west coast last spring, my colleague and I were directed to Benoit’s Cove to talk to the McCarthys about their experiences building and using dories in the Bay of Islands.
“You see, to we, a boat is only a boat. That’s all. It’s just nuttin’” Lance Short told us over tea and desserts served by his wife Pat. It was a chilly, damp October day and the crackle of the fire in the kitchen stove can be heard on the interview recording.
I first met Lance during boat documentation research in Trinity Bight in summer of 2014. We arrived at his home in New Bonaventure and explained our interest in speaking to him about boat building. Though he denied being a boat builder, he eventually admitted to building about twenty boats.
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.