BAR HARBOR — Fisherman and boat builder Victor Levesque passed away last week. His life and work had an enormous impact on the waterfront and people in Frenchman Bay and beyond.
“I admired him because he loved the working man, and if you were trying to work, he’d drop everything to help you do so,” Vic Levesque’s son, Tim Levesque, said Monday. “He was father to way more than just me” and daughters, Jackie, Teresa and Linda.
“Vic was an incredibly smart person that could build or do just about anything.” – Ed Monat
Victor Levesque built and fished a fleet of draggers, fishing offshore for groundfish (haddock, cod, flounder and hake). “At one time in Bar Harbor, we were unloading 14-15 boats,” the son said of the company’s efforts to sell their own catch and that of others.
The dragging operation began its decline around 2000. “The last time I went dragging was in 2005,” he said.
The dragger fleet included the steel-hulled Thunder Bay, still a familiar sight to Bar Harbor residents, and Northern Miner, both built by Vic Levesque and his crew. Northern Miner eventually sank off Frenchboro, but it is immortalized on an Atlantic Brewing Company beer label. Some of the steel in Northern Miner came from “two big water tanks down in Jonesboro,” Tim Levesque said. “My old man got the job to tear them down. He used the wooden boat he still had to go down there and cut the sheets of steel right on the beach.”
Tim Levesque was 17 years old when Thunder Bay was launched in 1983, he said. “By 18, I was captain.” They also had operated a Novi boat called Ready Girl and the Alabama-built Captain Bligh, now in use on TV on the Discovery Channel’s “Lobster Wars.”
Beginning in Hulls Cove and moving to Trenton in the 1990s, Vic Levesque’s all-purpose boatbuilding and repair shop was called Bar Harbor Marine. “We took the fish for everybody, we did a lot of rigging, we built the scallop drags,” Tim Levesque said. “We never hired out anything, we did it all ourselves.”
In 2001, they built the barge Mumbles for Great Eastern Mussel Farms. “Well, the old man pointed a lot, but I built it,” Tim Levesque laughed.
Mumbles is now the property of Pemaquid Mussel Farms, of which Tim Levesque is part owner. He’s excited about the future of aquaculture in the area. “We’re trying to gear up more and more for musseling,” he said.
Former Bar Harbor Harbormaster “Diver Ed” Monat said, “When I moved here in the 1980s, I had to get a job on a boat. Vic and his crew were some of the first people I met.
“Vic was an incredibly smart person that could build or do just about anything” Monat continued. “He knew how to utilize people who maybe wouldn’t otherwise have had many opportunities. For me, Vic was a huge part of the waterfront. He ran a part of Bar Harbor that helped make the waterfront what it is.” See obituary