In Memory of Don Hardy
THE DON HARDY STORY
June 27, 1928 – April 28, 2010
This model would not have come to be a reality without the contribution of Don.
It was the winter of 2003 and I had only recently arrived in Lunenburg NS on a beautiful autumn day in October. My camper on the truck was my wandering abode since the 911 disaster and for no particular reason I opted to spend the winter in Lunenburg and ultimately found a motel set up as an apartment and I huddled in for the winter.
Having nothing to do and now nowhere to go it was necessary to find some amusement over the long days of snow and cold which ensued. A flyer was received from the town recreation department outlining a series of wintertime activities which I happily enrolled in all of them. The days and evenings were empty no longer and this meant meeting a whole new universe of diverse humans with common interests.
One such person was Don Hardy who was presenting an evening course in how to build a half hull model. That it was Bluenose was pure happenstance but came to play a very serious role in the years to come.
Sitting in with Don and some seven or eight others we were taught the intricacies and importance of the half hull as used in ship building design in the old days, long before plans and drawings. I was enthralled with it all and Don was a competent but no nonsense instructor.
By the time the course was over in April of 2004 my love of the Bluenose and modeling was confirmed. In fact so smitten was I with the entertainment value of carving hulls that we thought it should be enjoyed by everyone and hence a business plan was developed.
Don had the capacity to take off a plan to scale and we had that printed up. Next we needed a book of instructions with pictures of the steps necessary to complete the model. Then we needed the wood, nicely dried and cut into shapes for the model. Next came packaging the components and readying the units for market.
This all took up the summer and into the fall again before the product was ready for the stores. In the meantime I attended at the local farmer’s market every Sunday and sold some to tourists mainly. But here I met more wonderful folks and virtually came to fall in love with this community and the people in it and the Bluenose heritage, It has only become better over the years.
Don of course knew this all along which is why he and Jean were located here.
As our association became a friendship we were able to share some stories of our pasts and it was there the bonding began. We both had a background in the Royal Canadian Navy it turned out. Although in vastly different branches with Don a Chief Petty Office Electrical Instructor, serving a full term of twenty five years and mostly in Submarines while I spent a brief five years in the Naval Air Branch in the early 50s.
Don joined the service from Vancouver in 1948 and eventually ended up on this East coast with much time overseas before becoming an instructor at an electrical school up in Cape Breton after retirement.
As well Don as the person responsible for developing the local South Shore Ship Modellers Guild which operates to this day and to which I happily belong picking other’s brains in order to become more proficient in model making.
With a propensity for helping others he was active in many organizations as a volunteer and some of these included: Meals on Wheels, faithful member of St. John’s Anglican church, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 23, Lunenburg, Admiral Desmond Piers Naval Association, Submariners Association of Canada East, Unity Lodge 4 Masonic Order, Grace Chapter 8 of The Eastern Star and was a founder of the South Shore Ship Modellers Guild and President for a number of years. As well a founding member of the Martin’s River Fire Department, serving as Fire Chief for a number of years.
Never heard the man cuss or complain or talk anyone down, a veritable saint in that respect. He was quiet spoken like a Gary Cooper type only not too tall, but very powerful.
He loved to pass on his appreciation of model building and indeed at one point we even presented classes at Lee Valley up in Halifax. That was over the winter and was quite a drive up and back in my old truck but we made it every week.
Don did the teaching while I kibitzed and I am sure was distracting to everyone. One student in particular was recalcitrant in giving up any information about his background and would only say he worked on boats, When asked where, he volunteered Lunenburg. After more prodding we found he worked on a black boat and I said the Chockle Cap? to which he replied no, it was the one next to it. Well the only other black boat in the harbour near the Chockle Cap was Bluenose II and he agreed that was the one. Being nosy still further it was elicited, grudgingly that he was Phil Watson the Skipper of Bluenose II. Well what a delight to have such an august classmate and shy and humble to boot so we had a lot to talk about on our drives back and forth that winter. Phil’s wife, a local Doctor in Mahone Bay had enrolled him for the course one assumes to keep him occupied over the winter. It was our great pleasure to have Phil and he gave the classroom a lot of class as he does with Bluenose II and indeed Lunenburg and Nova Scotia.
In an effort to make our models more saleable it was decided we had to produce a product which gave less fundamental work to create and to expand the niche of potential model makers. A copy carver was needed so we could use a fully shaped model as a proto-type to carve out the hull shape more easily and sort of mass produce the hulls. Once again the skills of Don came to bear and he reeled off the parts of a device which I scrounged for and finally he had a unit made up that with a router (trimmer) could turn out a fully shaped hull that we packaged and offered to the market.
Even after taking away 90 percent of the work (which was the fun part as I knew it) the model sales were lackluster.
Well the solution seemed to be to simplify the project and that we did. We now detracted all the wood and the mounting board as well as the brass name plaque and waterline strip and began to sell the plans and instructions packaged alone. This reduced the work and was fairly simple to do so we proceeded.
It was in this phase that Don suggested the only method we had not attempted was to produce a fully finished model, mounted on a select wooden board with a brass plaque and an history of the Bluenose and half hull construction.
In an attempt to find modellers to build these units we came up short and could not seemingly produce these in the quantity required thereby necessitating a paradigm shift.
At this time, now some seven years later, Don came to experience a lot of pain and discomfort and though we talked and planned no solution seemed to be forthcoming during the time Don had left and without him my enthusiasm and interest also waned. His last words to me as I was leaving his hospital room were to be “hit the gas”, a reference to a current auto ad popular on TV at the time.
Don passed away over in Bridgewater at the South Shore Regional Hospital on April 28, 2010 with his family at his bedside. The morning this happened I was for some unknown reason up at 0500 and looking out my bedroom window across the harbour toward Kaulbach Head when I saw a wake from an unseen fishing boat that was virtually invisible in the morning mist, if indeed it was there at all, but the wake was for sure, white and bubbling. Staring at the wake the phone rang and it was Jean to tell me that Don had ‘crossed the bar’ about that time. It will always remain with me that I saw him sail one last time out of Lunenburg Harbour and fittingly perhaps underwater where he so loved to be in his submarines.
This then is in testimony to a dear friend, a quiet man, smarter than most but humble. Spoke his mind to be sure and was in all respects a proper gentleman and a credit to his community.
The rites of passage were marked by an overflowing church filled with friends from his many and varied activities in the community and I felt it a privilege to attend. However the reception given at the Legion hall across the road, with the flag lowered to half mast was a most fitting tribute but one which I could not attend. My thoughts that day were between Don and myself.
Being unable to leave this project with our models incomplete. This final phase has been undertaken to produce the unit you now hold and to dedicate it as :
THE DON HARDY MEMORIAL BLUENOSE MODEL