26 March

Schooner Bluenose

Bluenoe I Launched

If a poll were taken of the greatest achievements by Canadians in the world of sports, there would be many nominations. The greatest all-around athlete would have to be Lionel Conacher who could play everything well. There would be the greatest runners like Tom Longboat and Percy Williams; boxers like Tommy Burns and Jimmy McLarnin; skaters and skiers like Charles Gorman, Barbara Ann Scott, and Anne Heggtveit.

How about the Nova Scotian fishing schooner Bluenose, now commemorated on Canadian 10-cent pieces? She was launched at Lunenburg on March 26, 1921, built entirely of Canadian materials except for her masts of Oregon pine. In order to challenge for the International Schooner Racing Trophy, Bluenose had to be a bona fide fishing vessel. Her first job was to go to the Grand Banks and catch fish. She returned as a highliner of the Lunenburg fleet, having caught more than the others.

Now Bluenose was qualified to race against the champion of the Gloucester, Mass., fleet. The first contest was held in October, 1921, and Bluenose was fifteen minutes ahead at the finish line. From that time until her last race in 1938, Bluenose defeated all other challengers.

In 1935, Bluenose crossed the Atlantic to attend the Silver Jubilee of King George V and was received with royal honours by the yachtsmen of Britain. She even raced the fastest schooner yachts in Britain and came third. Her opponents were designed for racing, not fishing.

W. J. Roue of Halifax, who designed Bluenose, built other vessels to try to beat her, but was unsuccessful. It is believed there was something freakish about her hull, an accident of building, that could not be detected and copied.

During World War IL Bluenose was sold to the West Indies Trading Company and carried general cargo between Cuba, Haiti, Guatemala and Honduras. On the night of January 28, 1946, she hit a reef off Haiti and sank the next day. Not a sliver of her got back to Canada, although a replica now operates in Halifax as a cruise ship.


26 March

-1616    Bylot and Baffin sailed on their Arctic expedition.

-1789    Pictou Academy was established by Nova Scotia statute.

-1821    The Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest Company amalgamated.

-1831    The Royal William was built at Quebec and launched April 27. It was claimed to he the first steamer to cross the Atlantic entirely under steam power.

-1885    The Métis, led by Riel and Dumont, clashed with Northwest Mounted Police at Duck Lake. Twelve police were killed.

-1961    A snowstorm created a state of emergency in Prince Edward Island.