The Wooden Boat MuseumBy Newfoundland & Labrador
From the time the first colonists settled in Cupers’ Cove (now Cupids) in 1610, Newfoundland culture, heritage, and survival have revolved around the North Atlantic and its bounty. The Wooden Boat Museum in Winterton shows what life was like in the outport communities back when people relied on the land and sea to survive.
Spend the day wandering around the museum looking at the different types of wooden boats. From kayaks – one of the oldest crafts built by the Thule people – to punts and dories – the iconic Newfoundland fishing boats – there are boats around every corner. Tour the museum with Howard Cooper, museum researcher, to appreciate the hard work, time, sweat, and tears that go into wooden boat building. Insightful displays and artifacts show how truly labour intensive the process is, from tree trunk to paint job, and how boats differ depending on community. “Every boat style has significance to the community where it was built,” Howard says. “From the colour, hull style, side and keel, to stem construction designed to handle different sea conditions, you can tell the characteristics that belong to each builder and community.”
Today wooden boats are made mostly for pleasure. But not too many years ago they sustained entire communities by allowing people to use the natural resources from the forest to build a personalized fishing vessel. The rewards reaped from the sea not only fed families, but also provided an economic income for the entire community.
After browsing the displays, and reading the informational plaques, head out to the workshop in the back to look at some wooden boats in construction. Jerome Canning, expert boat builder, is the guru of wooden boat building history and construction in Newfoundland and Labrador. He has a passion for this art form and knows the personal connection a builder has with his boat because it’s so physically demanding. From chopping down the wood in the forest, to sawing, shaving, and bending it to the right shape – the entire process becomes an extension of the builder. That said, no two boats are alike, which means every wooden boat is as unique as the person who made it.
What’s truly fascinating is that nothing about boat building was ever written down. It was a craft passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth and from learning by observing. The expression Jerome uses is: “learn on the father’s knee”, meaning children in the community grew up learning to build wooden boats from the time they were toddlers and had perfected the craft by seeing and then doing.
After having a thorough lesson in history and function, walk down to the community wharf and see a boat in action. The view is utterly iconic; fishing stores perched on stages, surrounded by wooden boats tied to the docks.
That’s why places like the Wooden Boat Museum are so important, as are the boat building workshops they provide. They help showcase how the province’s traditional wooden boats reflect the historical growth, spirit, and culture of coastal communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, and why it’s so important to keep this art form alive and well – and written down.
Learn more about Jerome and the tradition of boat building in Newfoundland and Labrador in this informative vignette.
Do you have a tale to tell about a visit to Newfoundland and Labrador?Tell us your story
- Our Favourite Pics from 2021
- There's No Place Like Dildo
- The Breathtaking Seabird Capital of North America
- Local food takes Newfoundland and Labrador cuisine…
- Leave your footprints on these five pristine beaches…
- A Journey Home
- Six Amazing Things You Can Experience Only on a Hike…
- Five Ways to Experience Icebergs in Newfoundland…
- History in Brigus and Cupids
- The Secret History of the Baccalieu Coastal Drive
- Preparing For a Day Hike in Newfoundland and Labrador
- Why can’t it be the destination and the journey?
- The Museums and Galleries of St. John's
- Elliston, The Root Cellar Capital of the World
- Snowshoeing & Cross-Country Skiing in Newfoundland…
- How to Turn a Foggy Day into Something Special
- Our Favourite Pics From 2020
- Our Favourite Pics From 2020
- Top 10 Bucket List Items in Newfoundland and Labrador
- Learning to Fish for Cod in Battle Harbour
- Coming Back Home: Illusuak Cultural Centre, Nain…
- Our Top Traveller Photos from 2019
- Conversation Starters To Get You Through The Holiday…
- Mummering, the Hobby Horse Workshop and a Parade
- Our Top Traveller Photos From 2018
- Prime Berth Twillingate Fishery & Heritage Centre
- Picture Perfect on the Avalon Peninsula
- Explore the branches of your family tree at The Rooms
- The road to Valhalla: Viking adventures in northeast…
- Once a Forbidden Tradition, Mummering in Newfoundland…
- Avalon Peninsula - A Top Rated Coastal Destination…
- Newfoundland Road Trips: Guide to the Baccalieu Trail
- From Rhode Island to a Warm Welcome in Newfoundland
- Five Places to Visit on Newfoundland's Irish Loop
- Hot Spots for History Buffs on the Avalon Peninsula
- On Scrunchions and Survival
- Things to do on the Irish Loop, Newfoundland
- Escape to Newfoundland’s Stress-Free Avalon
- Top 10 Oceanfront Cities
- Avalon Peninsula steals your heart
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Avalon Peninsula
- The best trail you’ve likely never heard of is on…
- Experiencing The Best of St. John’s Newfoundland…
All travellers must review important Travel Info and submit a Travel Form prior to arrival in Newfoundland and Labrador. Travel Forms for entry into Newfoundland and Labrador can be submitted anytime within 30 days prior to arrival date. All travellers must follow COVID-19 travel guidelines.