Silva Bay Shipyard School Society

Maintaining the Art of the Wooden Boat


In 2000 the Silva Bay Shipyard School Society was incorporated as a charitable, non-profit Society with an official Board of Directors.


The Silva Bay Shipyard school employs highly qualified instructors to teach courses on a variety of subjects.

Al Brunt – Chief Instructor (Retired)

Al Brunt - Chief Instructor - Silva Bay Shipyard SchoolTerms: 2003-Present
Instructor, Wooden Boat building, Ships Cabinetry, and Introduction to Marine Woodworking.

Al has over 30 years of experience as a woodworker. His work has been primarily in boat building and ships cabinetry, but also in fine furniture. Much of his experience has included hands-on supervisory and training roles, including the training of apprentices in a benchwork joinery program.

Recently Al has had to step back from full time involvement with the school due to a medical disability but remains closely associated with the students, instructors, staff and the Board. We really appreciate Al’s input, support and sage advice.

Trevor Henderson – Lead Instructor

Trevor Henderson - Instructor biography pictureTerms: 2003-Present
Wooden Boatbuilding and Ships Cabinetry since 2003; Instructor, Introduction to Marine Woodworking since 2004.

Education: Graduate of the Silva Bay Shipyard School, class of 1999-2000; studied cabinetry and veenering at Torsbergskolle, Bollnas, Sweden; graduate of the Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Kingston, Ontario where he was also a shop assistant. Recently completed a course in Blacksmithing at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.
Experience: Boatbuilding and restoration projects including finishing the construction of a 13′ launch, construction of 17′ and 18′ bidarkas, and various repair work on wooden boats; built own house, shop, garage, and studio.


Board of Directors

The Silva Bay Shipyard School is operated by a non-profit Society with a volunteer Board of Directors.

Nicholas Rushton – Chairman

Nicholas Rushton - Chairman - Silva Bay Shipyard SchoolTerms: 2009-Present

Nick Rushton (Rusty) found Tatiana, a thirty four foot plank on frame cutter, while visiting the Shipyard School in 2000. Tatiana subsequently proved to have been built to the lines of L Francis Herreshoff’s “Dulcinea”. Rusty has been a firm friend of the School almost since inception and has supported the Shipyard Raid as safety boat, picking up the rear of the fleet and offering tows and assistance as needed. Tatiana is also well known at Port Townsend having been on exhibit at the Wooden Boat Festival for each of the last five years.
In an earlier lifetime Rusty served in the Royal Navy as an Artificer (CPO), on leaving the Navy at thirty he went on to run Seismic Exploration ships all over the world, during which time he moved to Canada. The cyclic nature of the exploration industry and the start of a family prompted a third career change, he became one of the founders of a very successful research and development company specializing in commercial applications for strap down inertial guidance systems.
Commuting to Gabriola ceased in 2008 when Rusty retired and moved permanently to the Gulf Islands. His activities these days are focused on maintaining Tatiana, prompting his two daughters to visit regularly and keeping a smile on the face of all involved with the Shipyard School.

Email :

Lawrence Spero – Director

LawrenceSpero_S1_BWTerms: 2010 – Present
Lawrence spent 38 years in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He was a professor of pharmacology, director of both educational computing and the Bell University Health Communications Lab and for 5 years was an IBM consulting scholar. Lawrence came to Gabriola 8 years ago for a day, came back the next year and bought a house and moved here 6 years ago. He was the first elected chair of both the Gabriola Health Care Society and the Gabriola Health Care Foundation. He has a family history of involvement with fine cabinetry and tested his genetic inheritance by taking the Introduction to Marine Woodwork course. While Lawrence doesn’t own a wooden boat, he and his wife do own and enjoy two speed bumps aka kayaks.

Ryan Masson – Director

RyanBioTerms: 2008-Present

Ryan grew up on Gabriola Island, fostering a love for the ocean and boating of all types. After studying Tourism and Recreation Management in Nanaimo he moved to Whistler where he worked as Food and Beverage Supervisor for the Four Seasons Resort. After two years in the mountains, Ryan moved back to Gabriola where he has spent the last six years working as a professional kayak guide and instructor. Ryan regularly volunteers at the Shipyard School Raid cooking on the mother ship or as captain of the support boat ‘Stella’, a Columbia ’36 sailboat. Ryan, with his family, now runs two Gabriola based kayak tour companies, Baja Kayak Adventure Tours and Silva Bay Kayak Adventures.

Jim Charlesworth – Director – Treasurer

Bio pic space holderTerms: 2011 – Present
Jim was born and raised in Vancouver where he attended the University of British Columbia, obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance in 1970. He was a Chartered Accountant in public practice for 10 years before venturing into the private sector where he provided financial and management advice to a number of different businesses. After many years of after hours and weekend work renovating his own houses, he discovered that he had a talent for design and in recent years has turned his hand to designing and building houses for others.

Jim’s first boat was an 18 foot “Flattie” which his father bought for him when he was 14 years old. Having married into a West Coast sailing family, his next boat was a competition orange San Juan 24, his third boat was a twin engine 24 foot Grew speedboat and his fourth was a reserved and comfortable 30 foot wooden Monk displacement cruiser. After his arrival on Gabriola, Jim acquired a C&C 30 and recently traded up to a C&C 34. He also has a 21 foot wooden Turner water taxi in his yard awaiting restoration.

Like the other Directors, Jim has a soft spot for wooden boats and is eager to help make the Shipyard School an ongoing success..


Past Directors of the SBSS

Rufus Churcher
Andrew Deggan
Jacqueline Denee
Burtt Fidler
Inge Fretheim
Quill Goldman
Jamie Lawrence
Fulvio Limongelli
David Lockington
Richard Lyons
Rod Madison
Bey McGougan
Ron Mumford
Mike O’Brien
Bram Oudshoorn
Jennifer Provencher
George Remington
Cliff Robb
Tad Roberts
Charlotte Roderman
Jack Sickavish
Rick Sobel
Paul Thomson

Past Instructors/Staff at the SBSS

Fred Apstein
Irv Boichuk
Alisa den Duff
John Ensor
Tony Grove
Ronda Gustavson
EJ Hurst
Les Jackson
Alex Low
George Marshall
Heron Strauss
Bob Wyche