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Frank Thornhill with two of his creations – models of a 12-foot bank dory and 21-foot beachcomber dory.
Frank Thornhill with two of his creations – models of a 12-foot bank dory and 21-foot beachcomber dory. - Contributed

OTTAWA, ONT. – Frank Thornhill doesn’t see a sixty-fourth of an inch as well as he once did.

That hasn’t stopped him from including some intricate features in his model dories, however.

“I’ve always been a detail person, trying to strive for the finest that I can get out of whatever I may be doing at the time, so I like to give it my 100 per cent,” the 64-year-old former resident of Grand Bank told The Southern Gazette during a recent phone interview.

Thornhill, who lives in Ottawa, Ont., has built several model dories of different varieties – bank dories, a Swampscott dory, a beachcomber dory, a St. Pierre dory.

“That was a nice dory to build, and to build it and have it as a working model was my goal, sort of thing,” he said of the latter boat.

Thornhill left the Burin Peninsula after finishing high school, heading to Ontario. He came back to the region for a while, working at the Marystown Shipyard. Then after some time in Nova Scotia, he wound up back in Ontario.

He has a background in carpentry and cabinet-making. Time spent living with a family in an old school house was also influential in developing his skills, he explained.

“One wing of the school, we had a big ole lathe machine in there, and there’s where I kind of got my grounding. Then from there I was involved in another cabinet shop and a (woodworking) co-op also,” he said.

Dories are a link to his past, Thornhill explained.

“I grew up around them. I always had an admiration for them,” he said.

One of Thornhill’s boats recently wound up in Grand Bank, on display at Sharon’s Nook.

Through talking to people about the Grand Bank Summer Festival and the reunion for John Burke High School during the event, the idea came to him to donate a dory he was working on to be used as a fundraiser as a gesture to the town for his time growing up there.

A few people suggested the Grand Bank Community Youth Network.

Tickets are being sold on the dory until Grand Bank Day, Aug. 4, with proceeds going to the organization.

“I just thought I’d try to find a good cause to complete this dory, and it gave me a reason to kind of get it completed,” he said.

Thornhill has some other ideas, as well, saying he has been thinking more and more about finding a way to turn his dories into a kit where some of the handiwork would be up to the individual.

“That was a thought that crossed my mind,” he said.

paul.herridge@southerngazette.ca

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