They were the work horse of
an ancient fleet. They have been called the fastest wind driven wooden
vessels ever built. They stir the imagination of youth and old salt
alike. Many were built right here on Cape Ann. In Essex
alone from 1848 to 1853, 256 vessels were built and when the shipyards
in 1949, nearly 4000 vessels had been launched into the Essex River
the Halifax Herald (Nova Scotia) established a formal race of real sail
carriers that were bona-fide working ships. The following excerpts are
from "Bluenose II - Back In Time":
"That year (1920), elimination races in
both countries selected contenders. The schooner Esperanto
out of Gloucester, Mass., defeated the Delewana of
Lunenburg and took the trophy to New England.
Dismayed Nova Scotians hired young Halifax designer William J. Roué to
design a ship to challenge for the trophy. The schooner Bluenose (photo
right) was built by Smith and Rhuland and launched in
Lunenburg on March 26, 1921.
In October 1921, after a season fishing
on the Grand Banks, Bluenose defeated Gloucester's
Elsie and brought the trophy
home. In an 18-year racing career Bluenose did not give up
the trophy. The American schooners
Henry Ford, Columbia, Gertrude L.
Thebaud, as well as a number of Canadian vessels built in an
effort to surpass Bluenose's remarkable sailing abilities,
could not grasp the trophy from her.
The final race series took place in
1938. The Bluenose, by then 17 years of age, defeated the
Thebaud one final time. Still handling as smartly as ever,
Canada's most famous sailing vessel was a tribute to the Nova Scotia
shipwrights and sailors who built her and many other fishing and cargo
The Second World War ended the era of the great fishing schooners.
Replaced by modern steel trawlers, the fleets of sailing salt-bankers no
longer set out to challenge the cruel North Atlantic to reap a harvest
of cod for the markets of the world.
In 1942, despite the efforts by her Master, Capt. Angus J. Walters of
Lunenburg, and others to keep the ship in Nova Scotia, Bluenose
was sold to carry freight in the West Indies. The other schooners were
gone. Esperanto and Columbia were lost in
storms, victims of the treacherous sandbars of Sable Island, which is 90
miles eastward of Nova Scotia and is known as "the graveyard of the
Atlantic". Henry Ford and Elsie sank in the
Gulf of St. Lawrence. On January 28, 1946, the Queen of the North
Atlantic joined the fate of her greatest rival, the
L. Thebaud and foundered on a Haitian reef.
In 1955, both Bluenose and Captain J. Angus Walters were inducted
into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame for their achievements in the
International Fishermen's Trophy races."
View our exclusive gallery of past Gloucester