We came to the sawmill by the water built by him and other local men. It looked rough at first sight, but up close I could see it was not.
The blade is a fearsome thing that sings as it spins.
With this saw, they cut the wood to make the boats. First, they find a tree that had grown along the rocky ground before lifting upward, and cut it down.
Once sawn to the required thickness, a lead bar called a ‘mold’ is bent to the right shape, and the wood marked for cutting.
“Are you teaching your son all this?” I asked.
“No, he’s away at college learning something useful”, was his reply.
This straightforward truth about life at this time and place in history went through me like a crack of lightning, and I haven’t been the same since. If you are not sure why, have a look at these apparently simple boats, but built without blueprints using ‘molds’ handed down and skills taught to sons, shared with brothers, cousins and neighbouring men and boys, when it was useful.
In the most straightforward way, I suppose, it’s no longer useful. But, what struck me so hard is that these men today carry a knowledge and skills that will disappear like waves when the wind drops. Anthropologists call it ‘intangible culture’. The boat is quite tangible; the knowledge is not. The Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador ” . . . archives, conserves and exhibits our wooden boat history and it’s contribution to the province’s economy and way of life”. They do it by involving people from across the province and beyond, and happily, Twillingate has become involved.