Archive for the ‘Schooners’ Tag

Bluenose   4 comments

I wasn’t sure I’d find anything like the boat behind me — a replica of a hundred-foot fishing schooner, similar to a very famous one from Canada — but I lucked out in the end.  While I was wikiwalking today, you see, I was reminded of what some claim is the most famous ship in Canadian history, one most of us take for granted every day because it’s in our pockets, and we see it so damned often that we “forget” about it.  But never, never completely ….

The 1920s were the last great days of the wind-driven North Atlantic fishing fleets, including out of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  In 1921, the schooner Bluenose was launched, in part to participate in the dory-fishing trade on the Grand Banks, but also to get revenge on the Americans for winning a schooner race sponsored by a newspaper.  She could work hard — she carried eight dories, which would be launched up to four times a day when she was active during the fishing season — but she was designed as much for speed, with a very unique profile in the water.

The Bluenose handily won the right to represent Canada in the 1921 International Fisherman’s Trophy, and proceeded to take apart the American Elsie in October to win the Cup.  She and her captain, Angus Walters, defended the Cup in 1922 against the Henry S. Ford.  The 1923 race ended in controversy, and another wasn’t held for years.

The ship continued mostly successful in racing, and represented Nova Scotia in 1935 for the Silver Jubilee of His Majesty King George V; but her paying days as a fishing boat were ending.  Motor trawlers started taking over the trade from the dorymen in the 1930s; that and the Great Depression hit the wind-driven fishers hard.  The Bluenose‘s greatest racing challenger was at hand, though — Gloucester’s Gertrude L. Thebaud.  The Thebaud defeated her in a challenge cup in 1930; but the Bluenose had the better of the American boat in the International Fisherman’s Trophy, defeating her twice — and ending with the trophy in her possession in 1938.  That was the end for her, though; her masts were removed afterward by new owners, who moved her to the Caribbean in 1942 and turned this beauty into a diesel-powered coastal freighter.  She ran aground off Haiti in 1946, was abandoned, and broke up on the reef.

The Bluenose has never been forgotten by Canada, though.  At the height of her fame, the schooner was placed on the reverse of Canada’s dime coin, where she has sailed ever since.  Even before that, she was commemorated on one of Canada’s most famous stamps; and again in 1988, on a stamp honouring Angus Walters, her long-time captain.  And a replica, Bluenose II, built from her original plans, sails the waters out of Lunenburg to this day as a living museum and “ambassador” of Nova Scotia.

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