Leonard Matthews Sr. and Jr.

Two gen­er­a­tions of model boat builders

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - Al­lan Stood­ley Down Mem­ory Lane Al­lan Stood­ley is a long-time res­i­dent of Grand Bank. He can be reached at am­stood­ley@hot­mail.com and he wel­comes com­ments on this or any other ar­ti­cle he has writ­ten.

It was back in 1974 that I in­ter­viewed Leonard Matthews Sr. of Grand Bank and wrote an ar­ti­cle for the pro­vin­cial news­pa­per, the Evening Tele­gram. To say that at the time the 71-year-old was not a happy camper would be putting it mildly.

The feisty for­mer bank fish­er­man, farmer, car­pen­ter, rum­run­ner and boat caulker had taken up model boat build­ing in a big way and was be­ing rec­og­nized both lo­cally and abroad for the de­tailed crafts­man­ship he was turn­ing out.

The South­ern New­found­land Sea­men’s Mu­seum, later re­named the Pro­vin­cial Sea­men’s Mu­seum, opened its doors in 1971. Sev­eral years ear­lier, then-premier J.R. “Joey” Small­wood was so im­pressed with the Ann Marie – the first large-model schooner built by Mr. Matthews – he told him when the Sea­men’s Mu­seum was built, the Ann Marie would be one of the first things to be put on dis­play there. How­ever, it was not to be. Dur­ing the first three years the mu­seum was open, two model ves­sels were con­structed by Var­rick F. Cox – a model ship­wright with the New­found­land and Labrador Mu­seum in St. John’s – and in­stalled at the Grand Bank fa­cil­ity. The two mod­els, one of a 10-dory bank fish­ing schooner and the other a replica of the Flow­erdew, a typ­i­cal three-masted bulk car­rier used pri­mar­ily to carry dried salt fish to over­seas mar­kets, are still a very im­por­tant part of the ex­hibits at Grand Bank.

Leonard Matthews Sr. was a very de­ter­mined man who took great pride in the hun­dreds of mod­els he built over the years. Grand Bank’s fore­most model builder of the day would dis­cuss with en­thu­si­asm all of the boats he had made, but the Ann Marie was the one he took the most pride in.

He be­gan build­ing the sev­en­foot, eight and one-half inch­long schooner in 1945 and named her after his in­fant daugh­ter, Ann Marie. It was two years later be­fore he fi­nally put the fin­ish­ing touches on the model. There was a launch­ing party in her honor when she first went into the wa­ters of For­tune Bay in 1947.

Later in the 1970s Leonard Matthews did re­ceive the recog­ni­tion he de­served when thenMHA and cabi­net min­is­ter of the day, the Hon. T. Alex Hick­man, per­suaded the “pow­er­sthat-be” to pur­chase the Ann Marie and per­ma­nently dis­play the model in the Sea­men’s Mu­seum at Grand Bank, where she right­fully be­longed.

In part two we will delve fur­ther into the life of Leonard Matthews Sr. and speak with his son, Leonard Matthews Jr., who has also taken up the craft of model boat build­ing thanks to hav­ing spent time in his youth learn­ing from his father.


A model of the banking schooner Ann Marie, built by Leonard Sr., is now on dis­play at the Pro­vin­cial Sea­men’s Mu­seum at Grand Bank.


Leonard Matthews Sr.

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