Eric Bour­den


The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - ADAM RAN­DELL Adam.ran­[email protected]­cen­

He pushes the hand plane over the wooden plank.

Curled shav­ings fall to the floor. Tim­ber whit­tles away.

Eric Bour­den searches for the per­fect edge.

The tools and knowl­edge of his fore­fa­thers still in use.

“This plane is about 150 years old.”

The 83-year-old learned to build boats with his fa­ther. He was 16 at the time.

They built a few to­gether. Done a few him­self. Bour­den even­tu­ally drifted away from the craft.

It was a life de­ci­sion. Didn’t want to get into it. Would rather talk boats.

The odd speed boat here and there, started up again with a 13-foot punt in 1982.

“The year the Ocean Ranger sank,” he adds. Rowed it around New-World-Is­land in 2009. Eighty-six kilo­me­tres.

In to­tal, he’s built eight boats from the keel up. Putting in the ribs. At­tach­ing the planks. Shap­ing the bow, gun­nels and ris­ers.

No oakum. Re-spun thread and ma­rine caulk­ing com­pound for the seams. Fiber­glass too.

No sure what dad would think of it.

“I don’t know if they would use it. I’d say they’d stick with the old stuff.”

He em­braces the new. There’s even an elec­tric planer.

The great­est, on his own, a 20-foot mo­tor­boat in 2013. Pow­ered by a four-horse­power At­lantic make and break en­gine. Built over the win­ter in his Bayview shed. Kept it a few years. Sold it to some­one in Rocky Har­bour.

The lat­est, a power dory in 2018. Bot­tom up across the yard, in stor­age un­til spring.

“That one has a square stern to hold a mo­tor.

“I think it’s the only one of its kind for this area.” Think­ing hard.

There could be more to come.

A sense of pas­sion.

Another one to start, per­haps.

“If I can get the other one sold I will. I’ve got money tied up in it.”


Eric Bour­den, 83, uses the tra­di­tional ways of boat building. The 150-year-old hand plane was passed down to him from his grand­fa­ther.

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