When Michele’s great grandfather Randolph built his sailloft at the end of Second Peninsula, near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, all “engines” were made of fabric, usually canvas and they had to be reliable! Although the canvas is usually Dacron now, some things have not changed in 100+ years …same sailloft, same quality.
Randolph crewed under Captain Agnus Walters as a sail trimmer on the Bluenose during the glory days of wooden ships and iron men.
Cecil Randolf Stevens
Cecil was a sail maker in the Royal Canadian Navy and began working in his father's sail loft after the War and continued to be a sailmaker until his death.
Cecil sewing brass thimbles into the edge of a sail for roping.
Robert J. Stevens
While working in a Public accountants office in Halifax in 1960, Robert's Grandfater Randloph B Stevens, Sr. Became ill and turned his sail making business over to his two sons, harold and Cecil, who had been working with him.
They formed a partnership, R.B. Stevens & Sons and continued and expanded the family sail making business. Robert offered his assistance to establish a book keeping system for his father and HHarold and Uncle Cecil and would come down to the loft periodically to record their business transactions in the company books.
He continued in this manner form 1960 through 1964 doing their bookkeeping as the business continued to grow. Occasionally his father would suggest he come home to second peninsula and join their business. So it was in the summer of 1965 Rober, his wife Barbara and their three daughters decided to make the move and settled in Mahone Bay where they lived until 2011
Thus he bagan full time work as the third generation to sew sails in the Lfot. He began by learning to design, cut and manufacture sails and still occasionally helps their daughter Michel who is not the family sail maker.
Michele started her sail making career at a young age. Her first job was cutting out sail numbers that were added to the sails. She was paid 1 cent for the small numbers and 5 cents for the large numbers and then she would run to the hardware store at the bottom of her street to buy candy.
Michele would often travel with her father Robert to Second Penisula to play with her cousins on the weekends and always enjoyed waiting for her Dad at the Loft to see what was going on.
As a young teenager her short stint as a seamstress in the Loft involved cutting out corner patches and sewing sail bags while trying to keep out of the way of the real stitches, Velma Dauphinee and Shirley Rhodenizer.
in 1994, while attending University, Michele needed a summer job. She approached her great uncle, Randolph Stevens Jr. to see if she could use the Loft to turn her hand at sail making. Her Uncle agreed and under the tutelage of her father, Rober, Michel started the process of learning the dart of sail making.
Today the Loft employs five people and produces sails and canvas work that has sailed around the world. The boats range in size from home built dinghies to tall ships and one of the proudest moments was when the new mainsail for the Bluenose II was hoisted for the first time in September of 2005.
Michele has been sewing for 34 years but has enjoyed these past 17 years as a fourth generation sail maker. Michele is proud to be carrying on a family tradition and would like to thank the wonderful women and men sehe works with everyday for joining her on that path.
As well, she is grateful for the family members who have supported her over the years especially her parents Barbara and Robert and her late Uncle Ronnie who would visit the Lfot everyday to make sure the "girls" were keeping out of trouble!