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.
Harry was born to Donald and Ida (nee Knight) on April 16, 1929. He’s spent his life in Little Harbour working as a fisherman, carpenter and boat builder. He married Irene in 1960 and together they had three children.
Although Harry never kept track of the numbers, he knows he’s built “quite a few” boats over the years including punts, speed boats and one longliner. When speed boats began to gain popularity in the 1950s, Harry built the first one in Little Harbour and outfitted her with a 7.5 horsepower Evinrude outboard engine.
Harry used fir, spruce and juniper for his boats, harvested in the fall from New World Island and Gander Bay. “I built some shorter and some longer,” he says about his speed boats, “but eighteen feet was an average length that I used to build and what I used for myself.”
As a fisherman, Harry fished for everything. “In the deep water, there was cod, turbot, grey sole, flounder and that stuff. Around the shore I fished for salmon, cod, mackerel, herring, lobster, lump, whatever you could get like that,” he said.
After retiring, Harry started building model boats in his basement. With a keen eye for detail, Harry expertly constructs miniature versions of full size boats and including toll pins, oars and piggins. Just like his full size boats, he paints them white with green trim. “I started building them in the night time, in the winter time. I don’t do it much summer time. I does a little bit somedays when it’s not fit to get outdoors, but when it’s a good day I got to be outside doing something in the garden or something or other.”
Harry’s models can be seen on display at the Wooden Boat Museum in Winterton.