Virtual Museum The History and heritage of every native Newfoundlander and Labradorian is wrapped around the simple, humble wooden boat. The Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador aims to preserve the wooden boats and boatbuilding skills of our past and find a place for these traditions in today’s world. The cod fishery has played a significant role in the economic, social and political history of Newfoundland and Labrador. While visiting the museum learn about the fishery and the methods used to catch fish.Take a trip back in time and learn how to knit a net and gain a better understanding about the people who prosectued the fishey and the tasks they endured on a daily basis. With the invention of the make-and-break engine came a transformation of how fishermen utilized their boats. At the Museum learn about the many wooden boat types found throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. Types of timber used depended on the type of boat being built and the builder’s preference.
At the Museum we have an exhibit which features an area which is represents an old outport kitchen, bedroom and merchants parlour. As with many small communities, Winterton had its own forms of entertainment, schools, community organizations and folktales.
Many children and adults kept themselves entertained through playing games, listening to the radio, playing instruments, and skating during the winter months. Exhibits & Interpretation The story of the wooden boat is told at our Museum through our exhibits and online interpretation weaving together the history and heritage of our wooden boats and their builders.
Today these boats, certainly in their role as the workhorses of the province’s fishery, are fading as fast as the weathered paint on an aging punt. Through the work of our staff, volunteers, and enthusiastic members we are celebrating and preserving our wooden boat history, and sharing the lessons of yesterday to make them relevant for today. The very first settlers to Newfoundland built wooden boats and etched a future in a land far from their home.
The engine also meant that men were no longer restrained to building a boat that could be manoeuvred by oar and wind.


Most of a boat builder`s designs were held in his head, written plans were rarely ever used.
The first step in the process was for the boat builder to go in the woods and harvest his timber.
Typically boat builders of Newfoundland used black spruce, white spruce, juniper (also known as tamarack or larch), fir, birch, and occasionally pine. These tools included pit saws, hammers, compasses, plum bobs, spoke shaves, drawing knives, planes, clamps, augers and caulking irons.
Like many small communities in Newfoundland, the people of Winterton were invloved in various means to make a living.
People from the community would acquire various goods, such as food, baking supplies, fishing supplies and sometimes clothing from the merchant. Furniture in outport Newfoundland was typically made of local pieces of wood or recycled crates.
Folktales are bountiful and one such tale, about pirate gold in the sugarloaf, is retold at the Museum.
The Museum continues to document wooden boat design and construction through research and collection and by discussing the role of boats in traditional community life with traditional boat builders and others. During the early years of the fishery hand lines and Trawl lines were the primary methods used to catch cod.
Rather the fishery was more of a family affair with women and children pitching in to help knit nets, bait hooks, and dry cod. Since then many boat types have been developed and have been used in the Newfoundland’s waters. It took a skillfull eye to spot the right crook or turn in a tree trunk that would be suitable for a knee or a stem. In order to make extra money some people from the community would cut pieces of juniper to make and sell hoops for barrels.
For three centuries, after its discovery in 1497, Newfoundland was populated seasonally by migratory fishermen.


During the summer berries were abundant, families took advantage of this and typically made jams and preserves to provide their family with access to fruit during the Winter.
The livelihood of Newfoundlander’s for the next 400 years depended on the cod fishery. These boats types vary by region and are influenced by past building methods, environment, and local building techniques. The boat was one of the most important items a family could own, it was more than just a boat it was a lifeline. The boat builder would then attach battens from stem to stern; this would show the shape of the boat.
Some people took to opening general stores which provided the community with goods and basic necessities such as flour, sugar, and cloth.
Throughout the winter diet staples included dried salt fish, vegetables( which would have been stored for the winter months) and occasionally a family would kill a chicken, pig, or cow for meat. When old enough, young men would help their father’s fish and someday, become fishermen themselves.
Other building methods included the use of full moulds, half hull models, and the three piece mould.
The builder then puts in the rest of the timbers by using the shape determined by the battens.
Eventually this led to Newfoundland’s cod moratorium, which was put into place in 1992.
When other British American colonies became the Dominion of Canada in 1867, the colony of Newfoundland chose not to participate. It took nearly a decade before, in 1949, Newfoundland joined confederation and became a part of Canada.



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