Hedley Pardy

In Little Harbour, Twillingate, Hedley Pardy grew up surrounded by boats. “Everybody built boats out of necessity… You were fishing, you couldn’t afford to buy a boat, you had to build it.” Coming from a long line of reputable boat builders, Hedley learned how to build boats from his father, Harold. “Seemed like it came natural I don’t know… He wasn’t there all the time with me, but I guess from watching him build boats over the years.”

Using moulds passed down from their father, Hedley built mostly speed boats and one twenty-six foot trap skiff with his late brother, Hebert. “You use a mould to cut your three bend: forehook, midhsip bend, and afterhook we call them. And your counter of course. And the stem, well, it could be all different shapes depending on the piece of wood you’ve got, you know? But we try to get it half decent looking: not too upright.”

Hedley always used to cut his own timber frames, harvested from the roots of trees. “I can remember going with my dad over in the woods. Go down around Cobb’s Arm or over on some of the islands around Port Albert… Get some timbers for a boat for next year and get your firewood. You’d be gone a couple of nights probably.”

Building Boats


Hedley spent twenty-five years working in the fishery, harvesting cod, lobster, capelin, herring, mackerel and crab with his brother Hebert. “We had cod traps out. So we used a skiff for that… Just two of us, even with the cod trap, just the two of us… We managed, but it was a lot of hard work… You needed four guys really, but we managed anyways. The fishery was just about over when we started then, and it seemed like it was going down all the time… ‘99 we stopped. Moratorium was…‘92 I think it started, but we kept on at the crab for a few years.”

Jack Lane

Jack Lane, Twillingate

Jack Lane was born in Englee, on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula, in 1934. As a boy, he remembered spending time with Gideon Lane as he built boats next door to their family home. “Most everybody in Englee built their own boats. If they wanted a boat they built it.” In his youth, Jack lived in Exploits, Twillingate, and St. John’s before eventually returning to Twillingate to settle in 1965.

Read more

Lloyd Boone

Lloyd Boone, Point of Bay, 2016

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.”

Read more

Calvin LeDrew

Calvin LeDrew, Purcell’s Harbour

“Wherever you went, you either walked or rowed on Change Islands. Everybody had a punt,” said Calvin LeDrew. Born in 1942, his father Harry was a fisherman and boat builder from Change Islands, and his mother, Lucy (White) was originally from Comfort Cove. Calvin moved to Purcell’s Harbour on South Twillingate Island in the 1970s and spent his life working as a fisherman. “I’ve been at everything clear of the shrimp, I was never at that. Cod, turbot, lobster, mackerel, herring, squid… whatever you could make a dollar at,” he said.
Read more

Alf Manuel

Accessible only by boat until 1974, Twillingate Island has been home to skilled boat builders for generations.

P201140626_Twillingate_ALf Manuel (11)_edited
Alf Manuel

“Mr. Young – across the tickle – Don Young, he just lived over across the way there, he was building boats, and one or two of his brothers built boats. They were the closest ones to me that were in the business of boat building,” Alf recalls, “But there were lots of other people around. There was Mr. Watkins, over across there, he built speed boats. Good speed boats. And of course, the Pardys of Little Harbour. They’ve been building them since… well, I don’t think they were involved in the ark but they go back pretty far,” he laughs.

Read more

Roy Jenkins

Roy Jenkins sits in his newly finished motorboat, 2013.

Roy Jenkins has been building boats in Twillingate for more than 30 years. Born in nearby Tizzard’s Harbour, Roy moved to Twillingate in the late 1970s. “This is where my mother was born… here on this land,” he said standing outside the shed where he builds his boats.

Over the years, Roy has built mostly speed boats. He estimates that he’s produced around ten or eleven, but no two were ever alike. “Every one was on a different mould,” he said, “and there was changes to each one.” Some of the moulds were adapted from those used by other local builders, including Max Hussey, while others Roy made himself.

Read more

Eric Bourden

Eric Bourden showing his handplane that once belonged to his grandfather.
Eric Bourden showing a handplane that once belonged to his grandfather.

“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

Harry Pardy

P20140702_Little Harbour_Harry Pardy (2)
Harry Pardy with his models for sale in Little Harbour

Born and raised in Little Harbour, Twillingate, Harry Pardy learned how to build boats from his uncle Harold. “First when I started it was all done by hand. Hand plane, hand saw, ax, drawing knife, spokeshave, hand drill and all that stuff. There was no electricity then.” Following in line with generations of boat builders, Harry built his first boat, a flat, in 1942.

Read more

Max Hussey

P20140629_Herring Neck_Max Hussey (116)
Max Hussey

“We were fairly well isolated in Herring Neck. We thought this was the world here when we were growing up. Twillingate was big- you know, to make a trip to Twillingate would take a day almost to get there,” Max Hussey recalled.

Located on the northeastern side of New World Island in Notre Dame Bay, Herring Neck is composed of a number of communities including Ship Island, where Max was raised in the 1950s.

Read more

Ern Hodder

Ern Hodder
Ern Hodder at his home in Gander Bay

Ernest Hodder was born to Archibald and Clara in Davidsville, Gander Bay in 1933. The oldest of seven children, Ern followed in his father’s path working as a guide on the Gander River in the summer and spending the winters working in lumber camps. “I enjoy it out on the river. If you’re getting paid for something you love that’s the way to go.”

“In my father’s early day, there was no outboard motor. They had canoes that were the same on both ends.” Born in 1905, Ern’s father Arch was almost forty-years-old when he got his first 3 horsepower outboard motor.

Read more

Eugene Saunders

Builders_Eugene Saunders
Eugene Saunders with his Gander River Boat built in Glenwood over winter 2012-13.

Eugene was born in 1944 on Indian Islands, Notre Dame Bay to Frank and Netta Saunders. When he was three years old, his family moved to Glenwood where Frank, a blacksmith, worked with Anglo-Newfoundland Development (AND) Company.

Eugene grew up in Glenwood alongside the Gander River and learned how to build boats at a young age. “It always enthused me building boats. I used to go out to my uncle Nat Gillingham’s when I was growing up. They were boat builders,” Eugene says.

Read more

Basil Gillingham

Basil Gillingham with his Gander River Boat at Gander Bay
Basil Gillingham with his Gander River Boat at Gander Bay

Basil Gillingham was born in 1940 in George’s Point, Gander Bay and spent fifty years guiding on the Gander River. He learned how build boats at a young age by watching his father Leslie Gilllingham.

In Leslie’s earlier days, these boats were double-ended and propelled primarily by a black spruce pole. “To get Gander you’d have to pole up the river and then get the train from Glenwood,” says Basil, “and it would take you three days.” Today, the trip from Gander Bay to the town of Gander can be done in less an hour by car.

Basil built his first Gander Bay Boat when he was 16-years-old and has built over 100 of them since. “There were a lot of boats built here in Gander Bay, and a lot of people built them. Older people now, a lot of them are gone, and there don’t be many built anymore.”

Read more

Lester Vivian

Lester Vivian

Lester Vivian was born in 1932 in Gander Bay, Newfoundland. By the age of sixteen, he had learned how to build Gander Bay boats and began to work on the Gander River. “The river was our highway,” Lester says, and served as the primary route between Gander Bay and Glenwood until the Trans-Canada Highway was completed in 1962.

“It would take two days to get to Glenwood before motors,” says Lester about his father’s generation. Without a motor, rivermen used paddles, a pole, and a sail on the centre beam, “if the wind was right.” Lester’s father got his first motor in the 1940s – a 3.3 horsepower Evinrude.

Read more

Tom Abbott

Tom Abbott displays oakum that can be rolled into strands and used to cork the seams of the boat
Tom Abbott displays oakum that can be rolled into strands and used to cork the seams of the boat

Born in Summerville in 1928, Tom built his first boat at the age of 12. “It was what we called a rodney – a small boat about 12 feet long. We used to tow her behind the trap boats.”

Tom spent 15 years fishing with his father for cod, mackerel, herring, squid, salmon and whatever else was in season. He learned how to build boats watching his neighbour Abe Fry as he worked in his shed, “I would spend hours. I helped him to plank a boat. I’d go in there in the nighttime and help him – he lived alongside us. I’d hold onto a plank for him, and he’d show me that, then show me something else…it was right fun for me.”

Read more

Earl Feltham

Earl Feltham spent four seasons as marine engineer on Labrador fishing schooner the Sherman Zwicker

Earl Feltham was born on Deer Island in 1937. His father Ephraim, was a fisherman and a carpenter. In 1953, when Earl was 16 years old, Ephraim and his wife Suzy moved their family to Glovertown.
Earl went on to St. John’s where he attended the College of Fisheries (now the Marine Institute) and spent six seasons working on vessels along the Labrador coast.

Read more

Bill Feltham

Cod drying on Deer Island

William James Feltham, better known as Bill, was born on Deer Island in 1938 to Noah and Daisy Feltham. His paternal grandfather, Caleb Feltham, was one of thirteen men tragically lost on the schooner Little Jap in 1909, shortly after the birth of Bill’s father Noah. Bill’s grandmother remarried to Avlin Feltham, the man that Bill would know as his grandfather.

Bill fished on Deer Island with his father Noah, his grandfather Av, and his Uncle Ralph from eleven to eighteen years old.

Read more

Edgar Butt

After the owners ran into financing problems, construction on the pulp and paper mill was haulted. Today the Mill still stands in its incomplete state, untouched since the 1920’s.
After the owners ran into financing problems, construction on the pulp and paper mill was haulted. Today the Mill still stands in its incomplete state, untouched since the 1920s.

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.

Read more

Sam Feltham

Deer Island

In a small fishing community where everyone built their own boats, learning how to build was part of growing up for a young boy. “You’d go from one stage to the other,” says Sam, “listen to what they were telling you and watching them work. That’s the way I got my training.”

Sam Feltham was born on Deer Island in Bonavista Bay on March 3, 1928. He built his first boat on his mother’s kitchen table at fourteen years old.

Read more