I reckon most of you all are familiar with the schooner Bluenose. A Canadian grand banks schooner that was built to beat the Yanks in the races of the 1920’s – and to fish. She served that purpose very well and held the International Fisherman Trophy for 17 years after her launch in 1921. After World War II the era of the fishing schooners was a bygone one. Bluenose was sold in 1942 to work as a freighter in the Caribbean. There she foundered on a reef outside Haiti, January 28, 1946.
She got her name from the nickname for Nova Scotians and has served as sort of symbol or an icon for Canada and specially for the province ever since. Her graceful lines can be seen on the Canadian dime, stamps, in books, as a model, as a beer label and so on.
Beer label. Yes, Schooner Beer was first brewed in the 50’s by the Oland Brewery in Halifax, NS. It still exists today, but the Oland Family sold the brewery to the Labatt brewing Company in 1971.
However, in 1963 the Oland Family funded the building of a replica of the famous Bluenose, to serve as a promotion ship for their Schooner Beer, which featured a picture of the ship on the label. They put down about 200 000 CAD for the building. Later on she was sold for the symbolic sum of $1 to the provincial government who after a few years of managing the schooner turned it over to the Bluenose II Preservation Trust.
They restored about 20 percent of the hull between 1994-95. The trust kept on running the schooner, sailing around Nova Scotia in the summer, up till 2005 when she was turned over to the Lunenburg Marine Museum Society, who maintain her today.
A few years ago, Joan Roue, great-granddaughter of William James Roue, who designed the original Bluenose, brought up plans of building a Bluenose III. However, the provincial government didn’t embrace the project and claimed ownership of the name Bluenose III. Apparently she went ahead and started a fundraising plan to collect $15 million for the building of Bluenose IV, instead. Latest I heard, she had not yet raised the funds.
By the time a third vessel was being discussed, in 2007, Wendy Barnable, spokeswoman for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, said: “Bluenose II still has plenty of years of sailing left and there’s no need to build another version of the famous schooner.”
Today there’s controversy sparked in Canada, revolving just that very issue.
After discovering that the keel of the Bluenose II was warped, in July last year the provincial and federal government granted a $14.8 million dollar support for its restoration. Well okay, so far so good. What has been the issue here is not so much that the ship needs a restoration and that the government is paying 15 million green ones for it. No, it’s more the issue if it’s really a restoration. The restoration project started in December last year with the first phase – the deconstruction. The show ship was dismantled and apparently 80 percent of the material was feeded in a wood chipper and ended up in a landfill. Ouch!
What’s left is merely masts, rigging, sail and iron fastenings. So, is this really a restoration project? All new keel, all new frames, all new hull. Some people are very vocal about it and doesn’t want to call it a restoration at all. Some people call it a new boat and argue that the old one should have ended up in the maritime museum instead of a landfill.
A jocular thing in this story are the discussions about the name, because if it’s not a restoration, she clearly can’t be called Bluenose II anymore. Some of the suggestions I have seen are: Bluenose 2.5, Blewnose Choo, Bluenose III, Bluenose Too.
My own addition to the list features Bluenose 33 1/3 and Bluenose Fou.
However, whichever and whatever… the “restoration” project is now in its second phase – “reconstruction of the hull”, and the frames are coming up quickly. The building, I mean restoration site, in Lunenburg are open for the public. Go check it out if you can.
If you possess a Facebook-account, you can check Bluenose II‘s profile for pictures.
More info and pictures on their website as well:
As far as the beer goes, the label is far better than the beverage itself, which is uncomfortably non-beer tasting and lacks any real spirit what so ever.