On the Way to Cape Breton

home   ·   about   ·  contact   ·  linkup   ·  events   ·  advertise

    Skeletons on the Shore
Reading Room

photo albums

need to know
tour the shore

places to go

things to do
events calendar

people to see
real estate/rentals
business resources

sustainable living
environmental issues
house & garden
lifestyles arts/culture

the mailbag

more links


Did you know?
Highway 7 Online welcomes over
30,000 site visitors a month. Find out more.



David Towns - Art HistorianWhen David Towns retired to a small town in Nova Scotia, he expected to take life easy. A little reading and fishing, a day trip here and there, general putzing around, he thought. But David Towns was retired from the Navy where restlessness is a way of life. Unconsciously, he began searching for something that would fill the empty hours and turn the passing time into something of value.

David found his 'something' quite unexpectedly. It was in October, 1998 when David spotted his first skeleton. The decaying old Cape Islander fishing boat had been hauled up on Boutilier's Point near his home and he'd driven past her several times without really seeing her. That day, he was moved by the spectacle of history passing before his eyes and was compelled to stop and photograph the sad old boat.

She is still there, pulled up on a sand dune, and tilted over forlornly on one side. Her paint has disappeared with the ravages of time, wind and seaspray and her name is no longer visible. She is now known simply as "Worn Out" in the many sketches that bear her image. To David, it was "inutterably sad that such a tough little boat should be just shoved up here, abandoned and forgotten. She is a mute witness to the end of an era" and soon, she'll be reduced to a few raggedy timbers protruding from the sand. Others that he has sketched are now gone, scuttled or burned for firewood.

"Shame Sheila""Worn Out" is one of many such relics, castoffs from the inshore fishing industry. From 1991 to 95, Nova Scotia's fishers had faced a cod moratorium and watched the groundfishery dwindle by 75% in quantity and 68% in value. There was increasing competition from large international draggers coming close to traditional inshore fishing grounds.

Yet more than 25% of Atlantic Canada's population still lives in small fishing communities and for many, it is the only life they know. For those who weathered the storm, there is hope on the horizon. Lobster prices are on the increase and fish processing has become a new growth industry employing many of Nova Scotia's ex-fishermen. Developmental fishing is taking off with new demands for sea urchins, inshore shrimp and red crab, and there is a rapidly emerging aquaculture industry.

For others, a way of life has passed. Today, their boats lay idle, rotting away beside piers or pulled up and beached. Sometimes the aging vessels are dragged into the woods where they are barely visible, as though the owners can't bear to watch them decay in full view, a sore reminder what used to be.

Yet, David's photographs gathered dust in a drawer for almost a year. Something 'just kept nagging at him' he says, until he finally put pencil to paper and rendered "Worn Out" barely a year ago.

"Worn Out" - The little "Caper" that started it allAlthough David insists that his sketches are nothing more than a hobby, he has sold several. He is still struggling with pricing and whether or not the drawings have any intrinsic value. He is beginning to realize that the value of the renderings is not only in the artwork, which is done with sincerity and sensitivity, but in the emotional impact of the stories behind each one.

Once, David presented a drawing of one of the derelict boats to her owners, as a way of thanking them for 'clambouring all over their property taking pictures'. When the wife saw it she cried, and then told stories of the little boat that for so many years, was a part of their life. One woman who bought a David Towns sketch is a computer technician in the U.S. She spotted David's request for photos on the About Halifax Forum and later, was drawn to the image she viewed on the web. Somehow, the sketch had spoken to her of her daughter who was lost in a car accident earlier in the year.

David Towns suggests that people are making a 'silk purse from a sow's ear'. Although he's still in awe that his 'hobby' has taken on a life of its own, David has embarked on a second collection of drawings he calls "Innovations". According to David, this series features "retired boats being put to new uses as tourist attractions, restaurant attachments, gift shops or workshops".

In a way, these renovated Cape Islanders mirror the hard work and ingenuity of the men and women who once steered them out to sea. In many ways, David Towns poignant sketches preserve their spirit.

Do you have a good quality photo of a decaying Nova Scotia fishing boat (or one that's enjoying a new use) that you would be willing to share with David Towns? Email David.

View the Highway7 Gallery of David Towns Sketches
View Other Highway7 Galleries

Visit David Towns' New Website

Further Resources

The Perfect Storm Titanic/Shipwrecks
Sable Island Legacy
Fishermen's Memorial

Nova Scotia Galleries
Marine Artist Laurie Mireau
Painter/Sailor Kathy Brown
Whalebone Art - Linda Johns

Coastal Communities News

Fishing Facts from CCN

ACAP (Coastal Action)

Fisheries & Oceans - Maritimes

Fundy Forum

Fish Harvesters Council

Sustainable NS Communities

Sustainable Fisheries Society

Previous Features Index

 Related Features

Did you know?
Highway 7 Online welcomes over
30,000 site visitors a month. Find out more.

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now". Chinese Proverb
Order Customized Tree Seedling Favors for Your 2017 Wedding or Corporate Event
Valentine Weddings, Earth Day!

Search Our Sites With



Did you know?
Highway 7 Online welcomes over
30,000 site visitors a month. Find out more.


home    ·    about    ·    contact    ·    linkup    ·    advertise    ·    forum

All contents © 1995 - 2017 Highway7.com unless otherwise attributed
Highway7 E-zine, a publication of Hatch Media, is an electronic journal with a focus on commercial, historical, cultural and ecological issues concerning the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia in Canada. Topics include a growing resource of currently more than 300 articles. More articles and image galleries are added frequently as new material is brought to our attention. With Highway7.com, our primary aim is to serve, inform and reflect the rural communities on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia, as well as to acquaint new residents, visitors, tourists, and investors with the special beauty and enormous potential of our region.
Last Change: 01-Feb-2017