Edmonton

Handmade dories pass float test on North Saskatchewan River leak-free

Paul Winter smiles widely as he approaches the bank of the North Saskatchewan River in Gold Bar Park after a three-hour row through the city in a Newfoundland dory.

‘It’s the remedy I needed. My addiction was [ful]filled’

Paul Winter poses with two dories he built before testing them on a row on the North Saskatchewan River Thursday. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Paul Winter smiles widely as he approaches the bank of the North Saskatchewan River in Gold Bar Park after a three-hour row through the city in a Newfoundland dory.

"Fantastic. Wicked. It's the remedy I needed. My addiction was [ful]filled," Winter says with a laugh.

"Rowing is hard on your face. You get stiff cheeks, 'cause you constantly can't get the smile off. It's just pure fun."

The row was a test for two dories he built by hand, seeing if the boats leak after three hours on the water.

He was joined by four others, friends from his church who wanted to be a part of the afternoon trip.

"I want to celebrate this accomplishment of getting these dories launched," said Paul David Mercier. "Secondly, it's a bit of nostalgia for me because it harkens back to my childhood and time out on the water down east."

Paul Winter missed the traditional dory boats of his home province of Newfoundland. So, he built them and tested them out on the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton. 1:51

Winter, raised in Corner Brook, N.L., yearned for the ocean-faring life after working six years pouring concrete. He quit his job to make a dory by hand. It took more than 300 hours and his business, L.A. Dories, was launched.

Winter worries the art of building the flat-bottomed traditional fishing boat is dying.

-"You're tuned in to the river, to the river valley, and the dory, like all the history in it."- Paul Winter

"I didn't want that design just to go away," he said.

Winter said he overheard a bridge construction worker singing the traditional Newfoundland folk song I's The B'y as he passed below.

Winter is hoping the many Newfoundlanders who moved to Alberta for work will also yearn for a row in the traditional boat and rent his dories to ride the river.

Winter poses with his friends who helped him row his handmade dories down the river. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

He's also planning to hold annual dory races on the North Saskatchewan River.

"It's a beautiful experience. There's no sound, you know. You're right with nature," Winter said.

"You're tuned in to the river, to the river valley, and the dory, like all the history in it."

@Travismcewancbc

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

About the Author

Travis McEwan

Videojournalist

Travis McEwan is a video journalist, who has not won any awards. Originally from Churchill, Manitoba, he's spent the last decade working at CBC Edmonton. Email story ideas to travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

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