HomeIndustryAtlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame 2023 Nova Scotia Inductees

Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame 2023 Nova Scotia Inductees

Bruce Atkinson
Builder, Clark’s Harbour, N.S.

Bruce Atkinson was born in 1931 in Clark’s Harbour, Nova Scotia. He was the third of eight children and a third generation boatbuilder of the famed Cape Island boat, which was designed by his grandfather, Ephraim Atkinson in 1908.

Bruce has been a boatbuilder since he was 17 years old — first working in his grandfather’s shop, then in his father’s shop. After building boats for four short years, he realized that the shops his grandfather had built were getting quite old and outdated. He was able to find work on the lake boats in Ontario and after two years had saved enough money to build two new shops. Without hesitation he would say this was the best decision he ever made and was able to go into business for himself in the early 1970s. He has been involved in the construction of hundreds of Cape Islanders for fishermen all over North America. The famed Cape Island boat has had a proven reputation for many generations.

There were many changes in the boatbuilding industry in the decades during Bruce’s career. He went from building the traditional wooden boats that were only 10 to 11-feet wide, to eventually building fibreglass vessels as wide as 28 feet. The biggest change in the industry for him was in the late 1970s as Bruce and his brother Freebert (who also had his own shop) switched over from the wooden boat design to the fibreglass hull. Many of the first fibreglass hulls were manufactured by Legay Fibreglass in Waverly, N.S. and trucked to his shops in Clark’s Harbour. Eventually Bruce built his own moulding shop where the hulls would be constructed and then moved over to the finishing shop for completion. The demand for the fibreglass hulls was high, and so he found himself with long waitlists for hulls to be sent to other boatbuilding shops as well.

As the need grew, Bruce found himself having to rent out other shops and hire more employees to keep up with the demand for hulls and finished boats. He also branched out from the traditional lobster and fishing boat design to passenger boats for the whale and bird watching industries, as well as upscale pleasure craft. In 1991, he made the three-week voyage from Clark’s Harbour to Miami, Florida on board his 43-foot pleasure craft and entered it into the Miami International Boat Show.

While at the Miami Boat Show, he met the owners of the 36-foot Monk Trawler. They were currently having their design completed in Central America. It was decided that the owners of the Monk 36 would have all the fibreglass components of their pleasure craft shipped to Bruce to finish at his shops. This meant another expansion, hiring of more employees once again, and this venture brought millions of dollars into the local economy.

Bruce constructed yachts for people in the United States, one for the principal of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, passenger and tour boats for businesses in Newfoundland and countless 45×20-foot fishing boats for the Atlantic provinces. One of his greatest accomplishments was the successful launch of three lobster boats in one day from his various shops, just a few days before the lobster season opened.

Besides his own company, Bruce M. Atkinson Boatbuilders Ltd, Bruce was part owner in many other businesses over the years including H.A. Atkinson & Sons Ltd., Atkinson Boat Moulders Ltd., Atkinson & Symonds International Boatbuilders Ltd., Atkinson & Yates Boatbuilders in Springdale, N.L. and Novi Boats in Chatham, Massachusetts.

In 2016, Bruce sold his last shop and boat mould, but his grandfather’s design is still being manufactured today in many shops. He has received countless awards throughout the years including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association in 2015. In 2017, the Cape Island Boat was featured on Canada’s 150th Anniversary loonie coin, which shows the importance of this vessel and the Atkinson design.

 

Terry Zinck
Processor, Lunenburg, N.S.

Terry Zinck was born on May 10, 1962 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and grew up not far away in Rose Bay. Growing up in Rose Bay, many worked out of the neighbouring community of Riverport, which was home to one of H.B. Nickerson’s largest seafood facilities. Like many young people in his community, Terry began working in the industry as soon as he was able to at age 14 after school, on weekends and during the evening.

In his senior year in high school, he began to work aboard the local fishing vessels, which continued over the summers while he attended college. Near the end of his college education, an opportunity presented itself with H.B. Nickerson to represent the company for a DFO pilot project to research boxing at sea. He was hired to capture the analytical data of boxing at sea versus the traditional penning of fish aboard the boats.

Not long after this project ended, H.B. Nickerson went into receivership and was taken over by National Sea Products and Fishery Products International. Terry applied for a job after the takeover and began working in Halifax selling fish. During this time, he met Wade Nickerson, who was operating W.N. Seafoods Unlimited out of Yarmouth. In 1989, Nickerson offered him a position and he eventually became a business partner in the company. Zinck and Nickerson parted ways in 1997, when Zinck sold his shares and went to work as the general manager of Canus Fisheries in Clark’s Harbour, which was a major producer of salt fish in the area.

Eventually, in part of staving off receivership, Zinck bought the assets of Canus. From there, he started Xsealent Seafood Company in 2005. With salt fish in decline, Zinck shifted his company’s focus to fresh fish and dabbled in lobster processing as well. In the beginning, Xsealent Seafood’s claim to fame was high-quality groundfish, swordfish and tuna. To this day, besides having shifted focus to lobsters, Zinck’s company remains dedicated to top-tier seafood products.

Zinck intends Xsealent Seafood Company to span generations. His son, Brock, is currently the COO of the company. Eventually, Zinck intends for Brock to assume to role of president. His other son Hunter, much to his father’s pride, became a captain at the age of 20 in 2021. Zinck is proud of the legacy he has created in his community and his family’s willingness to continue that legacy. Apart from his business success, Zinck has spent his life on boards, in committees and heading up coalitions to be a good steward of the industry. Included in these roles was a tenure as the President of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association, a predecessor to the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance. At the end of his days, Zinck wants to be remembered as much for his service to his beloved industry as for his role as the founder and president of Xsealent Seafood Company.

 

Penny Graham
Mariner, Brier Island, N.S.

Penny Graham was born on September 10, 1950, on Brier Island, Nova Scotia — the most westerly tip of the province, with a population of just over 200 people. Penny spent her childhood helping her father, D.B. Kenney, who was the second owner of D.B. Kenney Fisheries Ltd. after his father, D.B. Kenney Sr.

Starting from her time as a young girl, her father would lift her up to the flakes to take down dried fish for him. She spent her whole life in the fishing industry. She spent her youth splitting, filleting and drying fish. She then worked with her husband, Roy Graham, trawling in the Bay of Fundy. After the downturn in the commercial fishery, she and her husband started Mariner Cruises in 1994 to offer whale-watching services to tourists in the area.

Penny lost her husband in 2009 to cancer. The passing of her husband Captain Roy was a devastating loss, but both her sons and two of her grandchildren, all Captains, have been at the helm with her and helped keep Mariner Cruises alive. Penny hasn’t travelled the world herself, but visitors from all over have flocked to her business as she delighted them with the natural wonders that the Bay of Fundy provides.

Penny also believes in giving back. Along with her busy touring schedule, she spends her days working as Brier Island’s Harbour Master. In this position, she spends many hours going to bat for her small community to get the funding needed to run their harbour. She firmly believes that given her community’s beauty, an upgrade to their harbour facilities would bring many more tourists and other craft into Brier Island.

Penny lives and breathes her profession and doesn’t have a retirement plan. At 72 years old and a true mariner at heart through and through, she plans to remain on the seas every year from June until October.

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