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.”
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, but kick started his business, L.A. Dories.
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 overhead 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.
He’s also planning to hold annual dory races in 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.”