Bottled Memories

by Garry Tizzard

     One of my hobbies is building 'ships in bottles' and I call it Tizzard Shipyards. After all, I do launch the ships that I build into the water in the bottles. I have been at this now for about 25 years. It all started when my younger brother, Michael, got a ship in a bottle kit at a yard sale. He had it for a couple of years before finally coming to me to ask for help in putting it all together. No problem, but it was somewhat of a cheap looking affair when it was completed so I decided to do one myself. Just to let you know how basic Michael's was, the water was painted on the outside bottom of the bottle and the boat was actually just stuck on the inside bottom of the bottle. Not very realistic looking at all. I use various colours of Plasticine in all of my creations. Different shades of blue (calm or rough seas), black for night scenes, white for ice and so on.

     When I first started 'bottling' boats I was only making the traditional schooners and other sailing ships. Later on though I thought I would try making the Newfoundland/Nova Scotia car ferry "Caribou". I go home to Indian Cove, Newfoundland, on a fairly regular basis so I was quite familiar with it's design. However, on one of my trips home and when I was aboard the "Joseph and Clara Smallwood", I struck up a deal on a moose hunting trip with a friend of mine, Mr. Don Pelley. Don worked on the "Joseph and Clara Smallwood" and also operated a guiding business in Grand Falls/Windsor. It was agreed that if I made him a "Joseph and Clara Smallwood" in a bottle, he would give me a discount on a moose hunting trip. When I got back to Nova Scotia I wasn't long turning the "Caribou" into the "Smallwood". They are sister ships and quite a bit alike in design and shape.

     This was the first time I had done a ship of this type in a bottle and it turned out exceptionally well, so, I decided to try another one. This next one was the "William Carson" and I have had a lot of offers from fellow Newfoundlanders who wanted to buy it. However, it is not for sale. It belongs in my Aunt Dorothy Watkins' house in Indian Cove, Newfoundland.

     These two ships, especially the "William Carson", have been a significant part of my past. As a result, I started 'bottling' more of my favourite memories, hence, the title of my story, "Bottled Memories". Among my other memories are the "Ambrose Shea"; the "Marine Nautica"; the "Marine Atlantica"; the "Christmas Seal". As some of you readers may have already guessed, most of these are ferries to Newfoundland. The Marine Atlantic office in Moncton, N. B. provided me with some really nice pictures of these ships.

     The "Christmas Seal" was actually a TB clinic, or hospital ship, that frequented Newfoundland outports in the 40's, 50's and 60's.

     A few years ago, when the new "Titanic" movie came out, I thought I would give that one a try also. To give it an added touch I made it into a night scene. I did this by painting tiny yellow stars on the back of the bottle, then painted the back of the bottle black, put black Plasticine in for the water, a really light blue clay for the iceberg and an off-white colour paint for the wash from the ship.

     I was planning to keep all of these treasured memories for myself but, as luck would have it, word soon got around that I was doing this sort of thing and the first thing I knew there was a newspaper reporter here at my door to do a story on me and my ships in bottles. It was a local newspaper at first, then another one from another town and finally a large newspaper firm in Halifax. When this story came out, the television network, ATV, called and came to do a live interview with me. A year later, a friend of mine, who also builds model boats, called to say that HGTV in Toronto would like to come down and do a story on both of us. Well, we just couldn't say no and besides we thought it would be kind of fun to be in the spotlight of the community for a while.

     Now that the word was out it wasn't long before some of my ships in bottles started disappearing from my house. The "Marine Nautica" and a "Titanic" were donated to help raise money for a well known author in Newfoundland who had been in a terrible car accident; the "Ambrose Shea" was donated to a friend, Al Hunt, on his retirement from Marine Atlantic and the boat he worked on, the "Ambrose Shea"; the "Christmas Seal" was sold to a friend in St. John's, NL; the "Titanic", and 16 other "Titanics" were sold in gift stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Halifax. Consequently, I have had to start all over again on a collection for myself.

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