So have you been to Canada before? Maybe yes, maybe no. Have you seen our coins? Our currency? We have a few: pennies; nickels, dimes, quarters, loonies & twoonies. Today I want to chat about our dime .. well, not really. I want to chat about what dons the back of our dime. The dime is the smallest of all our coins, and it is worth 10 cents. On one side is the Queen (of course) and on the other? The Bluenose. Have you heard of her? (No, not the Queen, silly. I KNOW you’ve heard of her. I mean the Bluenose.) Let me just tell you a bit about her.
First of all I guess we should really address her name. Bluenose. ?? Why Bluenose? What a weird name, right? Well, not so much, actually. She’s named the Bluenose because she is Nova Scotian … just like I’m a Bluenose/Bluenoser because I’m Nova Scotia. Starting way back in the 1700s people from this magnificent little peninsula were called Bluenoses or Bluenosers and there are a few explanations as to how that name came about. Irish Bluenose Potatoes: we grew ‘em and exported ‘em (long before ol’ Bud the Spud and the infamous PEI Potatoes make their arrival to our tables); our fishermen, bless their soles, would go out to sea in the bitter cold winters and wear blue woolen gloves to keep their hands warm … have you been in serious cold before? Your nose runs. These guys were far too busy and manly to use a pocket handkerchief and tissues weren’t yet invented (well, maybe they were – not really the point here) so they’d wipe their runny noses with their blue gloves … and stain their noses blue in the process; and it was the nickname given to the Nova Scotia British troops which occupied New York City and Boston during the American Revolution. So that’s where our romantic name was born.
But this Bluenose I’m talking about, she was far more glorious than any old fisherman with a stained nose (not that fishermen aren’t glorious in their own way, of course .. but that’s a whole nother kind of glorious). This Bluenose was launched in 1921 as an incredibly hard-working fishing vessel – a schooner, no less – and a racing boat as well. When she wasn’t working for the local fishing industry she was racing …….. and she was winning. Apart from being defeated in the inaugural Sir Thomas Lipton International Fishing Challenge Cup in 1930, she was undefeatable for 17 years. Each and every American and Canadian ship who came against her was defeated soundly, despite how fancy, famous, modern or expensive the competitors were.
I wish I could just stop the story there, but I can’t. After World War II fishing schooners were done away with, and we ended up being unable to keep the Bluenose here at her home. She was sold, and eventually sunk on a Haitian reef in 1946.
In 1963 a replica was built, the Bluenose II … not a racer or a working schooner she .. okay, wait. She was a working schooner, just not the same kind of work her predecessor did. She sailed tours. It was a promotional boat for Olands Breweries, believe it or not, and then purchased by the province.
After many years of service, she was taken out of the water, dismantled and … wait for it … she is being re-built right now. This very minute. Okay, it’s Sunday, so maybe not this very minute. But a wooden schooner is currently being re-built in Lunenburg and you can go and see this work of magic. You can look at the Bluenose webcams and watch it, but why look at a little picture on your computer screen when you can come and watch history in the making. Many say there will never be another wooden schooner built. This is it. The last. Who knows if they’re right? I don’t. What I do know is that you don’t get many chances to see something like this. And it’s just a walk from the Lunenburg waterfront … which we can drive you to if you stay with us, or you can rent one of our bikes and take the lovely path through the forest. Ahhhhh. Nice.
How many people will be able to say they saw the ship on the Canadian dime being built? Not many. But you can. All you need to do it get here.