The Dory Shop

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada | (902) 640-3005 | info@doryshop.com

Stories from the The Dory Shop


Piece work

For a Seine dory, the gunwale is constructed in pieces, which are fitted between the tops of the boat’s frames. This is different from the gunwales on smaller dories, which are built from a solid piece of oak. However, this is the stronger option for a boat of this size.

New year, new boat!

Just before the big storm that heralded the start of 2010, we received a delivery of nice, new dory lumber from our excellent suppliers at Bruhm’s Mill in Cornwall.

Dora the dory

If you’re hanging out reading our website, chances are you already think dories are pretty great boats. What I can also tell you is that the people who like dories are generally pretty great people. A case in point…last fall, a couple from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia were enjoying a brief holiday on the South Shore when they happened by The Dory Shop. The gentleman had grown up with a dory and had passed his love of boats on to his children. In fact, he had once considered building a dory with his daughter but life gets in the way of these things and the project was never undertaken. However, inspired by the site of dories outside the shop, the gentleman and his wife decided to have a dory built as a Christmas present for that daughter. They were back in December to pick up the sweet little Black Rocks. And returning to work after the holidays, we received this wonderful letter from the daughter, which we offer here with her permission:

Driving spikes in schooner keels

The Dory Shop was home to quite a time on Saturday when we hosted keel laying ceremonies for the twin 48-foot wooden schooners being built outside in the boatyard by our parent company, Dawson Moreland and Associates. More than 200 people braved brisk nor’ westerly wind and a minus 14 degrees Celcius windchill (that’s about 6 degrees Fahrenheit!) to watch Capt. Phil Watson of the Schooner Bluenose II and Capt. Matthew Mitchell, a 91-year-old seafarer who sailed aboard fishing schooners, including the original Bluenose, and skippered some of the first fish draggers out of Lunenburg, drive the ceremonial spikes into twin lengths of Mountain Gommier.

And now for something different…

As much as Jay loves dories, it’s nice when he gets a chance to build something a bit different from time to time. For instance, right now he’s working on a 7’ 7” Nutshell Pram that will serve as tender to the lovely little schooner Kitty Cochrane, launched at the Dory Shop in September. Speaking of schooners, there’s a big event taking place here this Saturday as we lay the keels on two 48’ schooners that will be built in the Dory Shop Boatyard over the next year and some.

Back to his radio

After weeks of ‘company’ in the shop, what with our fall dory building course, followed by a second course for students of the Picton Castle Bosun School, Jay is once again back to building boats solo. He tells me that suits him just fine for the moment. He’s got the first plank on a new Black Rocks dory, his radio is tuned to the CBC (as always!) and there are enough people dropping by to break up his days.

Special delivery

Once every year, about this time in October, The Dory Shop welcomes a pair of very special visitors. They arrive in their stunningly clean pick-up truck (always wonder how they do that!) and unload the equivalent of dory building gold. They are Edgar and Otho Hatt and they supply our “naturally-grown” dory frames or knees.

A heartwarming dory story

This may come as a shock to some of you but The Dory Shop is really not what you’d call a huge money-maker. Some years are good, others less than good but we trundle along producing quality boats and trusting our commitment to craftsmanship and tradition will see us through. It’s worked for 90-plus years. What makes a huge difference, especially when times are lean, are the people we meet along the way. At risk of sounding like a sentimental old fool, and not the crusty waterfront broad I pretend to be (ha!), I have just felt so blessed by the way people so willingly share the stories that bring them to our boats. And there is always a story. People just don’t choose a dory by accident.

Dory racing action

Saturday, September 12 was an extraordinarily busy day on the Lunenburg waterfront, what with the International Dory Races, the launching of the schooner Kitty Cochran at the Dory Shop, and all of the other events of the Lunenburg Waterfront Seafood Festival. We did get to see the afternoon Charity Challenge, in support of South Shore Health. The event came down to a final between teams from the schooner Bluenose II and the Barque Picton Castle.

Join us for a schooner launch

Lots of excitement around the Dory Shop these days as we prepare for the launch of the first newly-built wooden schooner here in maybe 40 years. The 33-foot Kitty Cochran was built by schoonerman Dave Westergaard of Tusket for Halls Harbour resident Duncan Veasey and his family. The boat was brought to the Dory Shop for her finish work and launch, now slated for September 12.

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