The days when boats were built of wood are all but gone, but one Is­lan­der con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY KATIE SMITH

The days when boats were built of wood are all but gone, but one Is­lan­der con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion.

Leo Mur­phy, a boat builder from Stur­geon, said that de­spite hav­ing been born and raised on a farm he be­came in­ter­ested in boats at an early age.

“I started re­pair­ing boats and got my­self a boat build­ing li­cense and went out on my own, and it’s been that way ever since.”

Mur­phy, who gave a brief boat build­ing pre­sen­ta­tion in Mon­tague on Satur­day as part of the Mus­sels and Mariners Fes­ti­val, said he’s seen a lot of changes in the boat build­ing in­dus­try over the past 50 years.

Back in the day, boats were made dif­fer­ently, es­pe­cially fish­ing boats, he said.

“They were all wood,” he said. “There was no such a thing as a fiber­glass boat.”

The sizes of boats be­ing built now have also changed.

“They were roughly 38-foot­ers then. They were smaller than they are today,” he said. “If you don’t have a 50-footer today, you’re not in it at all.”

On dis­play for the pre­sen­ta­tion was a replica of an ice boat Mur­phy built, mod­eled after the ice boats that were used to bring mail and pas­sen­gers to and from the Is­land in the 1800’s, where crews dragged them across the ice by foot.

“I don’t know how they did it,” he said. “I would imag­ine there were some bad days out there.”

Also on dis­play was a replica 19-foot 1939 Chris-Craft bar­rel back boat, made from Hon­duras ma­hogany and oak frames. “Vin­tage Lady” as Mur­phy calls her, is a boat he said he’s proud to have built, adding the project took 2,000 hours to com­plete.

The Mus­sels and Mariners Fes­ti­val marked the end of a sev­eral-month long se­ries of events in the area, the Mon­tague 100 Days project, said Jill Ha­ley, as­sis­tant to the CAO for the Town of Mon­tague.

“The project saw 100 days of events in cel­e­bra­tion of the Town of Mon­tague’s 100th birth­day. Today is ac­tu­ally the 100th day and 100th event.”

Fol­low­ing the boat build­ing demon­stra­tion, award-win­ning chef Kyle Pan­ton did a live mus­sel cook­ing com­pe­ti­tion, us­ing mus­sels do­nated to the fes­ti­val by At­lantic Aqua Farms and Cana­dian Cove.

The 100th also showed the un­veil­ing of the Canada 150 mo­saic, lo­cated on the Kent Build­ing Sup­plies build­ing in Mon­tague. The project, fa­cil­i­tated by David Trim­ble, was a col­lab­o­ra­tion of 250 par­tic­i­pants, and is 4.26 me­tres tall by 18.28 me­tres long.

Clos­ing the fes­ti­val were home­town favourites, Pa­per Lions, con­sist­ing of John MacPhee, David Cyrus Mac­Don­ald, Colin Buchanan and Rob MacPhee.

As for Leo Mur­phy, he said he has no plans on re­tir­ing from build­ing wooden boats any time soon.

“If you rest, you rest. That’s the way I look at it. I like the boats, I like work­ing on them. I meet a lot of peo­ple. It’s in­ter­est­ing.”


Leo Mur­phy, a boat builder from Stur­geon, stands with a ma­hogany boat he built called “Vin­tage Lady”. The project took 2,000 hours to com­plete. Mur­phy was in Mon­tague Satur­day for the Mus­sels and Mariners Fes­ti­val.

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