The Dory Shop

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada | (902) 640-3005 |

Stories from the The Dory Shop

Building and Launching a Dream Dory at The Dory Shop

Keith Farrier still has a hard time believing that the dream boat he’d been wishing for since he was a child is almost ready to be launched in Lunenburg Harbour.


Currently on her cradle at The Dory Shop yard in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Farrier’s beautiful Seine Dory with a cabin attracts a lot of attention from passersby and visitors as the final touches are being worked on. Now she’s ready for her big debut: to be launched in the Lunenburg Harbour on Thursday, October 28th before heading to her new home in Shediac, New Brunswick. “I say to my wife often, ‘I find it pretty hard to believe that I’m going to have a boat in the water soon, something I’ve always wanted my entire life’ and now it’s like my childhood dream is coming true,” said Farrier. “Who gets to say that? A lot of people don’t.”

The CLARA MAY is a Seine Dory, with a bottom length of 20’, and a measurement of 25’ 9” length overall.


Farrier, who is originally from Neil’s Harbour, Cape Breton, has been dreaming about building this dory since he was a young child. With many fond memories of the Cape Breton he grew up in, he named the dory CLARA MAY after his late grandmother. Having spent his early years in a fishing village on Nova Scotia’s coast, Farrier says they started playing around in the dories there as very young children, pretending to be like the fishermen who allowed Farrier and his friends to use their boats when they were off duty. “There was an unwritten rule down there that the kids could use those dories once they were hauled ashore… so we’d take them dories and go out and play with them in the harbour!” said Farrier.


Mike Gray, Master Builder at The Dory Shop, helped Farrier make his dream a reality. Working closely together over the last two years, Gray first helped Farrier sketch out and make the plans for his dory. Once they had decided on their final design, Gray began the build at The Dory Shop. “I mean it looks just like the picture in my head - it’s probably better to be serious. It’s like he couldn’t have done it any more than what I was looking for, and I mean it shows because he knows what he’s doing, and he made a really pretty little boat,” said Farrier. “I call it the ‘Gingerbread House’. It’s what it reminds me of because it’s got character.”


Keith Farrier holds up one of the original sketches of the CLARA MAY, designed and built at The Dory Shop.


The Dory Shop has been building dories on the Lunenburg waterfront for over 100 years. Originally used as a fish store, the buildings were converted into a dory building workshop in 1917 and it is now the oldest continuing commercial dory building yard in Canada. Farrier’s CLARA MAY project is a first of its kind for The Dory Shop, building a cabin and wheelhouse on a dory, and it’s one that The Dory Shop is excited about.


Captain Daniel Moreland is the owner of The Dory Shop. This super dory CLARA MAY is the realisation of Keith Farrier’s long standing and deeply conceived vision, made real by Mike Gray’s superb ability and craftsmanship. We are proud to be launching this fine vessel at The Dory Shop, the cradle and nursery of so many dories and small working vessels since long before the Dory Shop was founded in 1917. This small patch of natural shoreline has been the sight of the construction of small working schooners and dories for the fishing fleet and now for sweet access to the ocean they provide like no other boat can” said Moreland.



The Dory Shop has been building dories on the Lunenburg Waterfront since 1917.


The Seine Dory is one of the largest models that The Dory Shop builds. Dories are typically measured by their “bottom length”, which means the length of the flat bottom before the planks begin. In the Seine Dory’s case, the bottom length is 20’, with a measurement of 25’ 9” length overall. Due to her large size, Gray was able to design a sleeping cabin as well as a wheelhouse for the dory, in which Farrier plans to eventually build in a small galley.


In addition, the CLARA MAY has a “robust” electronics package, including radar with doppler, a GPS/chart plotter, sonar, and a fixed and handheld VHF. Solar panels have also been installed to help keep the 12 volt electrical system fully charged. Other customizations include building a seat over the engine, to which Farrier affectionately refers to as “the rumble seat”. The 102 litre fuel tank has also been covered and converted into a thwart, for additional seating on board.


But why has Farrier always wanted a dory in particular? “Well there’s a lot of [reasons why], but one of them is the fact that it’s capable. The seakeeping qualities of that boat are really going to allow me to take her around the Atlantic provinces. You know, be able to go places and not have to worry as much,” said Farrier.


“Everybody used to rant and rave about how good these dories were, and why they were good, and I heard all these stories from guys who would have a lot of credibility. Then one summer I was in Newfoundland and I worked in one for a whole summer, and when I worked in one I was like ‘oh yeah, now I know what they were talking about’. These things are a treat to be in, and once you know how they function in the water you feel really secure in them, you know? I want to go places! I want something that can handle the ocean, and that every time if the wind picks up a little bit I don’t want to have to feel like ‘oh I’d better hurry up and get home’. I want something that can take on the swell a little bit, and get to where it’s going, whether over to Newfoundland or wherever. So that’s why a dory.”


The CLARA MAY at The Dory Shop, 175 Bluenose Drive in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.


Farrier and his wife Janis have some big plans for the CLARA MAY and hope to take her annually on long trips around the Atlantic Provinces. “The first big trip is going to be up to Neil’s Harbour to take the CLARA MAY home,” said Farrier.


Spectators are invited to join The Dory Shop for the launch of the CLARA MAY on Thursday, October 28th. The launch will begin at 2:00pm at 175 Bluenose Drive, Lunenburg in The Dory Shop yard, weather permitting. The launch ceremony will include special guests. Please be advised that COVID-19 protocols will be enforced.