Fifteen foot speed boat built by Harry Pardy of Little Harbour, Twillingate in 2001.
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.”
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.”
“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.
Accessible only by boat until 1974, Twillingate Island has been home to skilled boat builders for generations.
“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.
“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