There are places on this piece of earth where the past and present just seem to come crashing together in perfect harmony. This is one of those spaces. Here, within metres of each other, a nearly century-old small boat builder hosts the construction of a new generation of schooners.
The Dory Shop builds,
well, of course, dories: those small workhorses of the sea. And they’ve been
doing it day in, day out, one after the other, for more than 90 years. Except
for the addition of a few power tools, they’re built the same way they’ve
always been built, with the same wood, the same fastenings, the same oars, the
same paint, the same everything! And here in Lunenburg we like it that way. It
works and it will continue to work as long as the sea is salty, and the ocean
That’s not to say nothing ever changes here. Just a couple of years ago, the shop was purchased by a world-voyaging tall-ship master, Captain Dan Moreland. That won’t affect the fine line of dories and custom wooden boats for which the shop is known up and down the seaboard. Instead, the captain plans to build on tradition and offer additional classic designs. In fact, you can even learn to build your own dory, right here in these buildings that are among the very oldest on our historic waterfront.
And yes, the schooners! These beauties were the first built on Lunenburg’s waterfront in over thirty years. Two 48-foot custom-built darlings, designed in the old-fashioned way from a half model, made with double-sawn frames, crafted from wood that will last in the warmer waters where they are likely to spend their years. Built side by side until the first lady – The Martha Seabury, named for the grandmother of owner, actor William Campbell – sets sail on her adventure. The other could be yours!
Oh there is so much more here. That wharf to the far right is the place where world-traveller barque Picton Castle spends her time in Lunenburg. Five times around the world and numerous other exotic excursions have made her a popular draw for those with an adventurous spirit and a taste to learn the lessons of the sea. Yes, that’s Captain Dan’s ship, owned by the Windward Isles Sailing Ship Company. When the ship isn’t at sea training hearty souls, a bosun’s school offers a land-based opportunity for mariners to advance their skills.
And there’s a refit or two that goes on here as well! Under the direction of Dawson Moreland and Associates, the Picton Castle herself saw her transformation from a trawler to a tall ship happen here and more recently the Zebriod saw her history as a scallop dragger end and life as a sail-aided diesel freighter begin. As the Tiare Taporo she will make regular trips throughout the South Pacific’s Cook Islands, opening up opportunities for people and goods to move more regularly.
That big red building, further to the right – once the home of Acadian Supplies Outfitting Company -- is the warehouse for the Picton Castle whose return voyages often include a cargo of treasures. As well, the Nova Scotia Sea School, an organization dedicated to developing leadership in youth through teambuilding on the sea, makes its land base here; because, really, shouldn’t every kid know how to sail?
If you turn around and walk a few steps forward, you’ll see a whole selection of companies doing the business of the sea. Ocean Gear makes the rakes used on scallop draggers, and more. Atlantic Electronics makes sure our ships have the best communication equipment. And at the Lunenburg Fish Company you’re sure to find some of the freshest catch available.Oh yes, this harbour has seen its changes but she’s still a gritty working waterfront, and we like it that way.