There had long been competition between fishing fleets from Lunenburg and Gloucester, Massachusetts, but so keen was their rivalry that in 1920, the Halifax Herald sponsored an annual race for deep-sea fishing schooners from the two fleets. When the Americans won, Canadian pride was hurt: a superior vessel had to be built in time for the next year’s competition.
(Photo: The Bluenose II touring Lunenburg harbour © Nova Scotia Tourism Agency)
They came up with Bluenose, which not only regained the trophy, but won it for 18 years in succession until World War II loomed, and the race was suspended. New steel-hulled trawlers rendered wooden fishing vessels redundant and in 1942, the Bluenose was sold to carry freight in the Caribbean. Four years later, she foundered and was lost on a Haitian reef. For many years, this undefeated champion was featured on the back of the Canadian dime (10-cent piece): she is still remembered on Nova Scotia licence plates.
A replica 1920s fishing schooner, the Bluenose II is an excellent vehicle on which to experience Lunenberg.
In 1963, the replica Bluenose II was built to the original plans by many of the original workers in the same shipyard as the original. From 1971, she sailed countless thousands of miles as Nova Scotia’s floating ambassador.
In the last few years, the vessel has undergone a major repair and restoration programme (which went millions of dollars over budget), and for much of the time has been out of commission.