Bluenose was a Canadian fishing and racing schooner from Nova Scotia built in 1921. She was later commemorated by a replica Bluenose II built in 1963. A celebrated racing ship and hard-working fishing vessel, Bluenose became a provincial icon for Nova Scotia as well as important Canadian symbol in the 1930s. The name “bluenose” originated as a nickname for Nova Scotians from as early as the late 18th century.
Designed by William Roué and built by Smith and Rhuland, Bluenose was launched at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on March 26, 1921, and christened by Audrey Marie Smith. She was built to be a racing ship and fishing vessel. This was in response to the defeat of the Nova Scotian Fishing Schooner Delawana by the Gloucester, Massachusetts fishing schooner Esperanto in 1920. That race was sponsored by the Halifax Herald newspaper.
After a season fishing on the Grand Banks, Bluenose defeated Elsie (out of Gloucester), returning the International Fishermen’s Trophy to Nova Scotia. In 1930, off Gloucester, Massachusetts, she was defeated 2-0 in the inaugural Sir Thomas Lipton International Fishing Challenge Cup by perhaps her most celebrated competitor, the Gertrude L. Thebaud. However, over the next 17 years of racing, no challenger, American or Canadian, could wrest the International Fishermen’s Trophy from her.
It is notable that she was no mere racing ship, but also a general fishing craft that was worked hard throughout her lifetime. She fished scallops and other kinds of seafood, and at least once won competitions for largest catches of the season and similar awards.
Fishing schooners became obsolete after World War II, and despite efforts to keep her in Nova Scotia, the Bluenose was sold to work as a freighter in the West Indies. Laden with bananas, she foundered on a Haitian reef and was lost on January 28, 1946. There has been claims that while searching for Morgan’s HMS Oxford, debris from the Bluenose was discovered off Isle a’Vache on the south coast of Haiti by the Caribbean Marine Institute during June 2005. Still there is no proof No one has ever found as much as a splinter of the wreckage.
Fame and commemoration
Bluenose, under full sail, is portrayed on the 1929 Canadian Bluenose postage stamp 50 cent issue. The Bluenose has been featured on a 1982 60-cent stamp that commemorated the International Philatelic Youth Exhibition. The Bluenose is featured on a 1988 37-cent issue that celebrated Bluenose skipper Angus Walters.
The Bluenose also appears on the current Nova Scotia licence plate. The fishing schooner on the Canadian dime, added in 1937 at the height of fame for Bluenose, was actually based on a composite image of Bluenose and two other schooners, but has for years been commonly known as the Bluenose. In 2002, the government of Canada declared the depiction on the dime to be the Bluenose.
Bluenose and her captain, Angus J. Walters of Lunenburg, were inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955, making her the first and only non-human CSHF inductee until 1960, when she was joined by Canadian Hydroplane Champion Miss Supertest III. That same year another honour was bestowed upon the famous sailing ship when a new Canadian National Railways passenger-vehicle ferry for the inaugural Yarmouth-Bar Harbor service was launched as the M/V Bluenose.
In 1963 a replica of Bluenose was built at Lunenburg using the original Bluenose plans and named Bluenose II. Built for the Olands Brewery as a promotional yacht, the replica was later acquired in 1971 by the province of Nova Scotia for one Canadian dollar,Or, more fittingly, ten dimes,as a sailing ambassador and continues to sail every summer based out of Lunenburg. As of 2011, Bluenose II is undergoing a complete refit with very few original Bluenose II parts being reused.
In 2007, Joan Roué, the great-granddaughter of the designer William Roué, started raising funds to build a new Bluenose. She cited the need for a new ambassador for Nova Scotia and Canada, listing the particulars at a Bluenose IV website. The name Bluenose III is owned by the province of Nova Scotia, and Ms. Roué could not reach an agreement for its use on the new schooner so Ms. Roué and North Atlantic Enterprises are proceeding anyway, however, under the name Bluenose IV. An agreement was reached with Snyder’s Shipyard to build the new replica when fundraising was completed. However as of 2009, Joan Roué had not succeeded in raising the required funds.
In the media
In 1977, The Houghton Weavers, a folk group from Lancashire, England, recorded a song titled Blue Nose. They described the song as “A well known sea shanty telling of one of the famous sailing ships on the jamaican rum run”. The song featured on the album “Gone are the days”.
Canadian Irish folk group The Irish Rovers released a tribute to the Bluenose on their 1979 album Tall Ships and Salty Dogs.
Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers honours both ships in his song “Bluenose”, found on his albums Turnaround, released in 1978, and Home In Halifax, released posthumously in 1994. – Michael Stanbury – Bluenose is another musical rendition of the racing history of the bluenose. A sailing ship called Bluenose appears in the 1990s children’s television program, Theodore Tugboat. The children’s television series TUGS features a character named Bluenose, who may be named after the schooner.
The ship is also prominently mentioned in the Circle-Vision 360° film O Canada! in the Canadian pavilion at Epcot in Walt Disney World in Florida.