Boatbuilding Through Three Generations

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Edmund d’EonEdmund d’Eon began building boats in 1921 when he was 29 years old.  He built open lobster boats in the summer – first for himself and later for other fishermen - and fished them in the winter.  The original boat shop, located in Edmund’s back yard, was 45’ x 24’.  At that time, the boats were constructed of pine planking, oak ribs, and spruce framing with rock maple keels.  The boats ranged in size from 26’ x 10’ to 40’ x 12’.  They were powered by car engines that you actually had to shift - Chevrolet and Buick being the most popular.

Camille Outside Original ShopDuring the summer of his 17th birthday Camille, Edmund’s son, began boatbuilding with his father.  He recalls one of the first boats he built with his dad – a 40’ x 12’ open lobster boat he was selling locally for $750.00 (without the engine).  The day she was launched, two gentlemen from Cape Breton happened to be aboard.  They sat in the stern for 15 or 20 minutes then promptly offered Edmund $1500.00 for the boat. Being a man of his word, Edmund sadly refused the offer as the boat was already promised to a friend.

Camille d’Eon Boat BuildersCamille learned the trade well and developed an eye for crafting the boat’s sheer into a thing of beauty.  Father and son worked together until Edmund’s retirement in 1951 when Camille, then 24, began to build boats on his own.  He moved the “boat shop” across the road into a larger building (40’x60’) and Camille d’Eon Boat Builders was created. Around the same time, shelters (now called wheelhouses) were added to the lobster boats and marine conversions happened to the car engines making them more “boat friendly”.

Sportsfisherman 50Being the artisan he still is, Camille also began building pleasure-fishing vessels.  His signature boat, The Sportsfisherman, with its classic lines, was very popular in the 60’s and was sold in Newfoundland, Montreal and Massachusetts.  These boats had a comfortable cabin and an open cockpit aft.  Some were made of mahogany while others were built of the traditional pine.  They ranged in size from as small as 38’ to as large as 50’.  Camille’s vessels always prompt the saying, “Now that’s a pretty boat!”

In the early 80’s, his son Maurice, a newly graduated marine diesel mechanic, and son-in-law and lobster fisherman, Craig d’Entremont, joined Camille in the business.  The younger partners were eager to expand the boat shop and as wood gave way to fiberglass, a new breed of fishing vessel was born along with the new generation of boat builders. 

28’ stern deckAn upturn in the fishing industry brought more and more requests for boats as well as a thirst for bigger and better vessels. There was a need to expand and expand they did – to three bays to take on the construction of three different-sized boats at the same time. The smaller fishing vessels gave way to larger, tougher, safer boats until a typical lobster boat of today is now a whopping 28’ wide, able to handle a complete load of lobster pots on dumping day and can be easily converted to other fishery making it a multi-purpose fishing boat capable of fishing year-round. 

Camille’s modelsWith Camille’s retirement in the late 90’s, the name was changed to d’Eon Boatbuilding Limited.  Although retired, Camille remains very active and still hones his craft by making scale models of the boats he was known for.  He often visits the new boat shop and, if you ask, he’ll be proud to show you his handiwork as well as regale you with songs and stories of his youth.

Maurice d’Eon and Michel SuretteToday, d’Eon Boatbuilding Limited continues to flourish under the direction of Maurice d’Eon and his new partner, Michel Surette. Together, they supervise the construction, repair and conversion of all types of fishing boats from 36’ to 65’, from lobster to long line.  The custom commercial fishing vessels are finished with the same quality workmanship as the custom pleasure trawlers, also available.  Repair work and boat conversions take place year round with the aid of two 50-ton marine railways.  Along with their local market, they also build vessels for customers throughout the Maritime Provinces, New England, Northern Quebec and as far away as California and Tobago.

The beauty of the whole operation is that even after over 400 boats and three generations, they still build them one at a time!