Building Boats Changing Lives

“Building Boats, Changing Lives” is an opportunity for groups to experience our shared maritime history in a hands-on community based learning environment. In the span of three days groups create a Bevin's Skiff learning marine craftsmanship and forging connections with one another in the time-honoured tradition of boat-building.

2021 Demonstration of the Blue Bird Dinghy, Design of the Bird Class

This introduction to the Bird Class Dinghy, and inaugural boat Blue Bird, is the first in a fleet of boats to be built at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic! The Bird Class was designed and created for youth to develop hands-on skills, learn boatbuilding and be empowered as individuals and team-mates. As more Bird Class boats are made onsite at the museum, we aspire to host sail training workshops in the years to come through the Building Boats, Changing Lives initiative.        Narrated by Eamonn Doorly, Shipwright/Assistant Curator of Small Craft at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and filmed in in front of the Boat Shop, November 2021.

Special thanks to the O’Rourke family who sponsored the build of Blue Bird, the first Bird Class build!

Blue Bird designer: Laurie MacGowan

2021 Boat Building with YMCA Centre for Immigration Programs

In July, an eager group of youth, ages 14 to 18 years, participated in 2021’s first boat build in the Boat Shop and courtyard at the museum. Over three days, they transformed their skills and teamwork into building  three boats, which they named Icy,  Freedom and Life is Good. One of the museum’s  summer students, Kaija Jussinoja captured highlights of the build and talked to staff from the YMCA and youth boat builders about their experience and accomplishment.

2019 Build a Boat Weekend

Bevin Skiffs were made over a  three-day build at three Nova Scotia Museum sites and locations in Nova Scotia: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax; Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, Lunenburg, and The Dory Shop in Shelburne. Community groups worked with museum staff and volunteers to learn, work and build together. Celebratory boat launches were had by all. Great teamwork!


2019 Boat Building with Pictou Landing First Nation School

Excitement permeated the Pictou Landing First Nation School in anticipation of the 2019 boat building program. So much so, that the grade three and four students wanted to digitally report on the experience. This video depicts boat building from the eyes of these "roving reporters" who, in using their iPads, were amplifying their voices while situating themselves in the community.

2018 Boat Building Intiatives

In 2018, Building Safe Spaces and Small Craft, a film produced by Shane Theunnisen at MSVU just won “Best Writer Canadian Films” at the 300 Second Short Film Festival. Learn more about this progam on the MSVU website

In June, Eamonn Doorly the master boatbuilder from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, led a boat building workshop with students from Pictou Landing First Nation. He teamed up with Dr. Christine McLean and Dr. Shane Theunissen, two Mount St. Vincent faculty members who specialize in Child and Youth Studies, and together with the wonderful students, this short film captures some of the magic that occurred.