The Dory Shop

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

Stories from the The Dory Shop

Winter at the Dory Shop in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

This time last year the Dory Shop was tucked up quietly for the winter – covered in a blanket of snow (blanket? It was much, much thicker than a regular old blanket). Quiet as can be. Our builders normally take a few months off each winter as there typically aren’t many orders over these cold months, and the un-insulated 100-year old Dory Shop gets mighty cold when the winter storm winds blow. This year, though, things are quite different. Completely different. We’ve still got the snow, of course, but this year the Dory Shop is bustling. And bustling with unique projects unlike ones we’ve done before.

First and foremost is the beautiful Scandinavian fearing boat which we started building in December. It is a copy of a boat used in a Hollywood movie, and is required to finish up some filming in the USA. When the producer first approached us about this project we were excited but lost– we had no plans, no dimensions, no idea how to start the project or to figure out cost. All we had were a few photos that they were able to send us. Then, thankfully, we noticed the name of a town written on the side of the boat: GØtu. Well, you’ll never guess what: that tiny little town is located in a small group of islands close to Iceland. A small breathtakingly beautiful group of fairytale islands my family happens to be from: the Faroe Islands. I have family there still, and so I contacted them to ask about the boat. Good fortune smiled on us once again – the man I spoke with (I’ll call him my uncle Pauli, although he’s a little more distant than uncle) happens to be very good friends with a man who published a book on these boats back in 2000 (Hin føroyski róðrarbáturinAndras Mortensen). When I wrote to Andras about this project, he immediately sent the Dory Shop a copy of his book. His beautiful, hardcover book which is completely in Faroese. Faroese? Faroese is a Scandinavian language more similar to Icelandic than anything, but has some similarities to Danish. I speak no Faroese (apart from a few catch phrases and insults my grandmother taught me as a child). Well. Captain Daniel Moreland (recent recipient of the Tall Ships America Liftetime Achievement Award and owner of the Dory Shop) speaks a bit of Danish, the two languages are similar enough that he was able to pick out words here and there to help us get the information we needed to begin the project.

Faroe Islands Row Boat

Obviously we got the job, and as you can see from the photos, she’s lovely. I’ll be sad when she’s done and is taken away to live her new life as a movie star in Hollywood (I sure hope she remembers her meagre beginnings with us in little ol’ Lunenburg) … although it will be nice to have the shop back. To say she dominates the room is in no way an over-exaggeration. She’s large.

Thank goodness we had two builders in the Shop this winter, because things went from busy to hectic when a rush job was undertaken: a small dory for a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship. This dory will be used as a chair in their swanky Schooner Lounge. I’ve been promised a photo of the chair once she’s complete, but she left the Dory Shop to be flown to Italy where she’ll be fitted with cushions before being flown back to the US home base. In the meantime, this is how she looked when she left us last Friday.

Cruise Ship Dory Chair

While we finish up the work on the movie boat we are also waiting delivery of a beautiful Concordia which needs a bit of TLC. TOSCA has been very well looked-after, but needs some work and general upkeep done and her Cape Breton owner has chosen the Dory Shop to look after her. I must say: at the moment I’m perfectly happy with stormy weather we’ve been having, because we’ve received an order for another dory and I’d like to get that job done before we begin work on TOSCA, and with every snowstorm comes a delay in the lovely TOSCA’s delivery to us here in Lunenburg.

Yes, things are certainly different around the Dory Shop yard since Jay left us to pursue his career as an artist. But there’s no time to stop and think right now – the phone’s ringing and someone has just emailed me about shipping some of our oars down to the USA (the struggling Canadian Dollar is certainly helping out this little shop with orders coming in from our neighbours in the United States).

…and yet in the midst of all of this change and bustle and unique projects, the heart of the Dory Shop remains the same: we are (and will always be) dedicated to preserving a unique maritime history nestled in a corner of a UNESCO World Heritage Town, carrying on the tradition of hand-building dories today the way they were built 100 years ago for the schooners headed out to fish off the Grand Banks.