Description of Historic Place
Richardson and Son Boat Building Provincial Historic Site consists of the boat yard and associated wood frame buildings, vestiges and a collection of artefacts from the family boat building business. The business dates to the mid 19th century and has produced a range of hand made wooden fishing boats and pleasure craft. This historic place is situated on a gently sloping 4000 square meter shore lot on Richardson Harbour in the small community of Richardson, Deer Island, Charlotte County.
Richardson and Son Boat Building was designated as a Provincial Historic Site for its heritage value as one of the last vestiges of the historic boat building industry in New Brunswick. Boat building played a huge role in both the cultural and economic development of the province. In the 19th century, New Brunswick was a major world producer of ships. Shipbuilding and related industries developed throughout coastal areas, but Richardson and Son Boat Building is thought to be the only original surviving boat shop from the 19th century in New Brunswick.
There is heritage value in that Richardson and Son Boat Building is said to have been the best known boat building firm in the Maritime Provinces for many decades. Beginning in the 1850's when Thomas Richardson built a small boat shop until the 1960's, five generations of the Richardson family constructed boats on this site. While initially they met the needs of the local herring/sardine fishery, eventually customers ranged from large corporations such as Connors Brothers, to weir fishermen, and later pleasure craft and yacht enthusiasts in the Maritimes and New England. This provided livelihood not only for the Richardson family, but for workers from nearby communities and the mainland. A collection of boat samples, equipment and other artefacts relating to this industry is on site.
The heritage value of Richardson and Son Boat Building is also embodied in the variety of styles, design and size of boats produced, and their use of new technologies of the day, from single dinghies and the “Deer Island Scale Boat" to “Pinky” schooners, many rigged and equipped to meet the specific needs of the client. Richardson’s son, George Everett Richardson (1859-1946), was the first boat builder in the area to use the half model as the basis for his boat designs. He was also the first builder in the area to use sawed timbers, which he steamed and bent into place.
Richardson and Son Boat Building is also recognized for its association with George Everett Richardson. George Everett Richardson, a community pillar, built a second 10.7 metre by 15.2 metre boat shop around 1880 on this site, largely digging and filling the foundation trench with rock by himself. George Everett Richardson, who had built a net boat by the age of twelve, became manager of the business and over the course of his life built over 1000 boats and yachts. He had a reputation for building fast boats, important because of the perishable nature of the cargo, and of course for the races; a common form of entertainment for fisherman and one on which wagers and pride rested.
Source: Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport, Heritage Branch - Site File #87
The character-defining elements that relate to vestiges, intrinsic values of the boat building industry and the Richardson and Son Boat Building firm and the variety boats include:
- setting on a sloping lot nestled between outcrops on the shore of a small harbour protected by outer islets;
- built heritage including the boat shop of George Everett Richardson (1880), and related small buildings;
- the collapsed boat shop of Thomas Richardson (that he rebuilt and relocated to current location after Saxby Gale of 1869);
- vestiges of structures such as wharves and slips;
- the context and spatial relationship of buildings, structures, vestiges and the landscape;
- collection of on-site boats, equipment and artefacts.