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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Losier

Artefact of the Week Series: Graphite Rod, Battery and the Advent of Motorized Dories

Graphite rod were used in powering motorized dories during the 20th century. As most people familiar with the history of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon know, the fishery was the base on which the archipelago’s entire economy was built during the late 19th and very early 20th centuries. This fishery’s efficiency largely depended on the hard labour carried out by dorymen both in the offshore and inshore fishing industries. By the 1870’s, offshore fishing would be carried out from a large vessel fitted with several dories, which would leave their mother ship and set trawl lines before dusk. They would then return to haul up their lines and bring their catch back to their mother vessel shortly after dawn. The dory itself was a flat-bottomed boat that would have to be rowed or sailed, which put a heavy physical toll on dorymen. The inshore fishery was similarly taxing, with fishermen working from before dawn until the mid to late afternoon. The introduction of the motorized dory in 1911 drastically reduced the physical toll that came with being a doryman. Rowing and sailing were essentially obsoleted – however, having to purchase motorized dories also significantly increased the cost of equipment for fishermen. This graphite rod would have been a component of an early battery, serving to conduct energy created by chemical reactions into the motor that powered the dory.

Although the fishery was in decline during the early 20th century, motorized dories largely improved the quality of life for many of the remaining fishermen in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. Over the course of the 20th century, the dory-based fishing economy had largely dried up; there were only five dories remaining in operation in Saint-Pierre in 1996. This graphite rod, however, gives us insight into the fishery-based activities that took place at Anse à Bertrand during the 20th century.


  • Calum Brydon

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