Showing posts with label boatbuilding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label boatbuilding. Show all posts

Friday, September 23, 2022

Living Heritage Podcast Ep218 Mentor-Apprentice Program: Boatbuilding with Jerome Canning and Chris Hogan

Photo Caption: Jerome Canning and Chris Hogan in Chris' workspace. Photo by Heritage NL.

In this episode we talk with mentor Jerome, and apprentice Chris who are two participants of Heritage NL’s Mentor-Apprentice Program. With over 40 years of experience, mentor Jerome Canning is a master boat builder. A well known craftsman across the island, Canning has completed over 100 wooden boats during his career. Apprentice Chris Hogan is an experienced carpenter and woodworker with a long-held desire to explore the unique craft of wooden boatbuilding.


Living Heritage is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio.

Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Launching the "Maxwell Roy" - 1940s. #FolklorePhoto

These photos show the boat "Maxwell Roy" about to be launched. The Maxwell Roy was the last ship to be launched by Martin Gosse of Spaniard's Bay. The photos were taken sometime in the 1940s. The two main buildings shown in the background of the second photograph were still standing in 2018.

Photo courtesy Daphne Robinson. Photos collected as part of the "Lassy Days Photo Scanning Pary" held Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 at the Wesley Gosse Heritage Museum. If this photo elicits memories for you, or if you'd like to arrange a photo scanning party for your community, contact Dale Jarvis at

Friday, March 10, 2017

Living Heritage Podcast Ep069 Building Boats and Building Community

Jim Dempsey is the President of the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador. Jim has been around boats and the ocean all of his life. As a boy, he spent his summers on the beach where he always had a boat to row. After studying marine biology and oceanography at university, he was fortunate to be employed in his field for over forty years. He has worked along the entire British Columbia coast, in the Canadian Arctic, and from Sable Island to Hudson's Bay on the east coast. For Jim, the Wooden Boat Museum has provided a chance to realize a dream to build wooden boats. This experience has been enhanced by the people he has met, the places he has visited, and the stories he has heard. In this interview we talk all about the wooden boat museum, their past conferences, the work of conserving boatbuilding skills, and their current educational and outreach programs.

Listen on the Digital Archive:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fog and Folklore in Twillingate, Newfoundland

This summer, folklorist Crystal Braye of the Wooden Boat Museum of NL and Lois Bragg of the Marine Institute are travelling around the island measuring and documenting wooden boats, and recording the work of traditional Newfoundland boatbuilders. As part of the outreach work of the museum, the ICH office is partnering with them to deliver a series of workshops on intangible cultural heritage and oral history along the way.

Yesterday was the first of our oral history workshops, held at the lighthouse in Twillingate. The workshop space was fantastic, with probably the best view of any workshop I've ever given, looking out at hundreds of icebergs and bergy bits. The workshop room was also conveniently placed above the fog horn, shown above, which punctuated our meeting as the fog rolled in and out throughout the afternoon.

We heard great stories, and local residents helped us identify a mystery woman in one of our oral history collections: broadcaster Hiram Silk had interviewed a Twillingate woman in the 1980s, but had identified her only as "Miss Anstey." We listened to the interview, and people were quick to name her as Mary Anstey, or "Aunt Polly" Anstey, to differentiate her from another Mary Anstey in the community.  You can listen to that interview with Mary "Polly" Anstey on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative

Lois and Crystal are shown below, taking the lines of a wooden boat outside the lighthouse at Twillingate. They are going to be working in the Twillingate area till July, and then moving on to Trinity. If you know of boat builders or wooden boats in those areas, they would love to track them down. Drop me a line at and I'll put you in touch.  The next workshops in our series are in Trinity on July 15th and 16th. More info on those workshops here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wooden Boat Heritage Workshops in Trinity this July

This July, the Trinity Historical Society & Wooden Boat Museum of NL are partnering with us at the Intangible Cultural Heritage office to offer 2 workshops in Trinity.

Session One: Lifting Lines Workshop
Tuesday, July 15
Parish Hall, Trinity   

Naval architect Bruce Whitelaw will teach participants the process for recording the hull shape and construction details of traditional wooden boats.

Session Two: Interview Techniques Workshop Wednesday, July 16
Parish Hall

Join folklorist Dale Jarvis from the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador to learn digital recording and interview techniques for collecting local oral histories.

During the following week, interested participants will have the opportunity to join WBMNL’s Documentation Team in collecting boat lines, construction details, and oral histories in Trinity and the surrounding area.

To register contact Jim Miller at (709) 464-3599 or Crystal Braye at (709) 699-9570.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Boatbuilder and tradition bearer Henry Vokey to receive honorary doctorate of laws

The Corner Brook session of fall convocation of Memorial University will take place at the Arts and Culture Centre on Friday, Oct. 4. Master boat builder Henry Vokey will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Henry Vokey has been surrounded by boats his entire life. He began building boats at age 12 when he constructed a six-foot model in the now-resettled outport village of Little Harbour in Smith Sound, Trinity Bay. At age 25 he began to take a serious interest in building boats as a means of survival and, after moving to Trinity in 1964, his business flourished.

During the 1970s Henry Vokey and Sons Shipbuilding employed close to 40 people. He has been active in the construction of more than 1,000 seafaring wooden vessels ranging from a 12-foot rodney to 65-foot draggers. The varieties include trap skiffs, sailboats, dories, schooners and numerous small-scale models.

Through the years there have been many changes where boat building is concerned, most notably the introduction of steel and Fibreglas models of fishing vessels. Despite these changes, Mr. Vokey remained determined to do as he always had done: he had spent so many years working with wood and had no desire to change to any other material.

In 2008 Mr. Vokey announced he would build one last schooner. He started in 2009 and the 44-foot double-masted wooden schooner named Leah Caroline was launched three years later in Trinity Bay. Named after his great-granddaughter Leah and his late wife Caroline, the schooner is still enjoyed by Mr. Vokey and his friends and family.

In 2007 Mr. Vokey received the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2008 he was awarded honorary life membership in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Wooden Boat Museum and in 2012 was inducted into the Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame.

A significant contributor to the cultural traditions of our province, Henry Vokey will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree during the Corner Brook session of convocation at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 4.

Thanks to Jim Wellman, Editor, Navigator Magazine, and Beverley King, Project Manager, Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador, for sending this note my way. - Dale

Monday, June 11, 2012

Make and Break Engines: Running the Past Into the Future

- The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador -
- recognizes iconic marine engines in 2012 Provincial Folklife Festival - 

There is a sound that was once ubiquitous to the waters in Newfoundland that has sparked the interest of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL). Putt-putt; putt-putt – the sound of Make and Break engines once filled the skies from dawn to dusk as busy fisherman worked to sustain their families and their island.

This summer HFNL wants to restore the interest that Newfoundlanders once had in these rhythmic engines. A series of oral history interviews, to be conducted throughout the island, will lead up to the 2012 Provincial Folklife Festival in Bonavista, which will focus on the iconic marine engines. Events for the festival will be held on Saturday, August 4 in Bonavista, as part of the town’s inaugural Church Street Festival.

Joelle Carey is a public folklore intern with HFNL and a graduate student in Memorial University’s Department of Folklore.

“By working on this project we hope to promote the marine history of the province,” says Carey. “It’s a great opportunity to get people talking about these engines that are such an important part of life in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The oral history project will take the form of interviews conducted by Carey throughout the summer months. These interviews, along with pictures of the motors found, will then be added to Memorial University’s Digital Archives Initiative. This archive will be accessible to the public online.

The Heritage Foundation has secured the partnership of Parks Canada through association with Ryan Premises National Historic Site in Bonavista.

“Through the many conversations I have had in organizing this event, I am repeatedly inspired by the glazed-eyes that come over people and the small smiles that appear on their faces as they recall their particular fond memories of times spent on or near the water,” says Pat Carroll, with Parks Canada.

“The Ryan Premises National Historic Site of Canada is honoured to be a part of this event,” says Carroll, “and to have a role in the celebration and rejuvenation of one of the resounding traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Canada and of the whole of Canada.”

The festival events will take place in Bonavista on August 4 and will include a Make and Break flotilla and a parts swap.

HFNL would like to hear from anyone with memories or an interest in Make and Break engines. If you are interested in getting involved by sharing your stories or if you have an engine, please email or call, toll free, 1-888-739-1892 ext. 5.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Putt-Putt-Putt-Putt: Looking for memories of "Make and Break" Engines

There is a distinct sound that can be heard on the waters around Newfoundland and Labrador, putt-putt, putt-putt; the sounds of an antique “make and break” engine cuts through the air. At one time this sound was ubiquitous to small fishing communities throughout the province, but now the rhythmic chugging of the make and break is to be cherished when heard.

Make and break inboard motors were among the first technological advances to help revolutionize fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador. They allowed fishermen to save their strength for fishing, not wasting it on paddling or hauling sails as they had done before. Most often installed in trap skiffs, the hull was first cut to accommodate water intake and output, which helped cool the engine. The large motor was then bolted to the inside of the boat, usually in a motor house, with the propeller advancing through the stern, driving the vessel forward. These dependable, sturdy, single cylinder, gasoline engines have been called many names, and while make and break is the most common, putt-putt engine, one-liners, or pik-a-puk, are all used to describe the same type of engine.

Do you, or someone you know, have a make and break engine? If so, we would love to hear from you! The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador is looking for running engines and stories from their owners. If you have an engine or a memory to share, please email or call, toll free, 1-888-739-1892 ext. 5.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Intangible Cultural Heritage Podcast - A Good Boat!

In the late 1970s an American folklorist, David Taylor, conducted a series of interviews in the Trinity Bay area while researching his Memorial University folklore thesis, "Boatbuilding in Winterton: The Design, Construction and Use of Inshore Fishing Boats in a Newfoundland Community".

In "A Good Boat!" - the first intangible cultural heritage podcast - we present short clips of two of those interviews.

The first, dating from March 22, 1979 is part of Dr. Taylor’s interview with Mr. Lionel Pearcey, who was born December 8, 1918, in Winterton, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. Mr. Pearcey lived most of his life in Winterton, although he would spend time away from home working in mines, as a fisher, and as a carpenter. In the interview, Mr. Pearcey discusses different types of boats, and explains the difference between a speedboat and a trap boat.

The second clip, recorded in Winterton on August 15, 1979, is part of an interview with Mr. Herbert Harnum. Mr Harnum was born November 30, 1919 in Winterton, where he worked as a fisherman with his family. In this clip, Mr. Harnum describes the qualities of a good boat.

To listen to David Taylor’s full interviews with Mr Harnum, Mr Pearcey, and other traditional Newfoundland boatbuilders, visit Memorial University’s Digital Archive Initiative online at

Friday, September 23, 2011

A few quick pics of Henry Vokey's schooner, Trinity, Newfoundland

I'm here in Trinity for the Wooden Boat Museum of NL conference and AGM. It's been a while since I was in Trinity, so it is great to see the fantastic progress Mr. Henry Vokey, master  boatbuilder, has made on his schooner. Last time I was out this way, it looked like this.

Now, she looks gorgeous. A few quick pictures below.

Here is an interview with Mr Vokey one year ago.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Norman Currie and Bull Bird, Britannia Newfoundland

I've got a lot a great photos that I've been amassing over the past three years of the intangible cultural heritage project, and it seems a shame to not share some of them. So, with that in mind, I'm going to start a new weekly folklore photo posting, and put a new photo up each week.

This week is a favourite, of Uncle Norman Currie with his boat model, Bull Bird, shown here at the dock in Britannia, Random Island.  I'm not sure of the date on this one, but Uncle Norm passed away a few years ago, and this was one of his last model projects.

One of my favourite stories about him was one I heard from Jim Roy, his nephew-in-law. Apparently, Uncle Norm had an old boat that he had made, with an inboard motor of some type. The propeller shaft had snapped, and when he was told it would cost him $100 to have it welded, Uncle Norm took a cheaper and slightly more ingenious route. He got someone with an angle grinder to smooth off the end of the shaft, then cut a foot off the stern of the boat, and rebuilt it a foot further up, shortening the boat, and allowing the shorter propeller shaft to protrude the correct distance from the back of the boat. Apparently, it worked, and the boat was reportedly even more stable than it had been before the alteration.

A great example of making do with what one has.

Thanks to Jim Roy, Lower Lance Cove, for the story and the photo.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Labrador kayaks old and new, and adventures with polar bears.

This morning, Peter Cowan, reporter and video journalist for CBC in Labrador, tweeted a link to this story, about Noah Nochasak's journey to Hebron in a handmade, traditional style kayak. It is well worth a listen, particularly the part about Nochasak's run-in with a polar bear.

As a sometimes kayaker, I was interested in Nochasak's construction of the kayak, which is built along traditional Inuit lines, but using nylon instead of skin as the covering. It is a good example of one of the basic tenets of intangible cultural heritage: that ICH comes from the past but is in a constant state of evolution.

Give the interview a listen here.

A few years ago, I got a "backstage" tour of the collection vaults at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec. In a darkened room full of boats from all across Canada, there was one treasure that stood out for me: a traditional Inuit skin kayak from Labrador. A few pics below:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Who wants to build a traditional Newfoundland punt?

Have you ever looked out at the ocean on a calm day and thought "wow I wish I had a boat". Then now is your opportunity to learn how to build a traditional Newfoundland punt.

The Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador will be offering a Boat Building Course in Winterton this summer from July 9th – August 27th. The course will consist of 8 workshops.

Workshop #1 The Backbone: Shaping the Stem and Keel
Workshop #2 The Backbone: Connecting the Stem to Keel
Workshop #3 The Backbone: Shaping the Counter
Workshop #4 The Backbone: Connecting the Counter to Keel
Workshop #5 Setup and Frames
Workshop #6 Planking – Putting on the Shear Plank
Workshop #7 Planking – Putting on the Garboard Plank
Workshop #8 Planking – Filling in the Hull

Workshop #1 will be begin on Saturday, July 9, 2011, and run each Saturday until August 27, 2011.

Cost per workshop is $60.00. Members receive a 10% discount.

Participants can register for the entire 8 weeks or individual sessions. For further information or to
register, please call 709-583-2070 or email Pre-registration is required.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Traditional Wooden Boats - Recording Our Heritage

The Wooden Boat Museum INVITES YOU TO HELP US preserve the traditional working boats of our Province.

Our two part program includes a ONE DAY CLASSROOM INTRODUCTION to the elements of field work followed by a
series of TWO DAY PRACTICAL EXERCISES fully documenting boats at selected sites around the Province.

Traditional Small Boats
Introduction - Regional working boats to be found around the coastline of our Province.
Kevin McAleese – Curator, The Rooms

Anatomy of a Boat
Seeing wooden boat structure with a critical eye. Characteristics and craftsmanship.
Aidan Penton – Master Boatbuilder, Fogo Island

Lifting Lines
A practical guide to capturing the shape or hull form of a boat in the field
Bruce Whitelaw – Naval Architect, WBMNL

Digital Photography
A practical guide to achieving museum quality digital photographs in the field.
Jerry Pocius – Research Professor, MUN

Tape Recorded Interviews
A practical guide to successful tape recorded interviews in the field.
Dale Jarvis – Folklorist, Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

St. John’s
Saturday, May 16
8:45 AM

Registration Fee
Lunch included

Industrial Seminar Room
Marine Institute
155 Ridge Road

for INFORMATION contact
Bruce Whitelaw
709 722 7337

Bev King (WBMNL)
709 583 2070

"The first day in St. John's is an introduction to field documentation and an opportunity to begin establishing a standard for capturing data on our traditional wooden boats in an orderly way," says Beverly King of the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador. "The hope is to encourage people from around the Province to come together for a day. Then in the weeks to come there would be a further two days in "the field" practising the skills introduced."

"The sites of these practical sessions are to be determined by the participants of day one and the identification of boats to be documented," says King. "We intend to hold about a half dozen practical sessions dotted around the Province with only a subset of those attending the introduction participating in any one practical exercise. So, everyone gets the common introduction in St. John's and then goes back home and practices (with the assistance of a number of the presenters of day one who will travel out to the sites for a couple of days)."

Monday, April 13, 2009

ICH Update for April 2009 - Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

This month's edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update focusses on the province's aboriginal cultural heritage, and provides an overview of some of the recent projects started under Newfoundland and Labrador's Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Program of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. Some project include canoe making, oral history training, documentation of sealing traditions, and an Innu youth banner project. Also in this issue, notes from the Federation of Newfoundland Indians on Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge, and an invitation to the 2009 Miawpukek Traditional Powwow.

Download the newsletter here.