If you want to see the Bluenose II in Nova Scotia any time soon, you’d better do it fast.
The vessel is docking in Halifax for only three days this week before sailing to the Great Lakes where it is going to represent Nova Scotia and Canada in the Tall Ships Challenge.
The famed schooner is slated to welcome visitors just behind the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. It will dock there till Friday afternoon when the vessel will leave for Lunenburg. The Bluenose II departs for the Great Lakes the next day.
“Last winter, the scheduling committee received an invitation to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge in the Great Lakes for 2019,” said Mark Sajatovich, director of visitor experiences with the province’s Communities, Culture and Heritage department.
“This event is expected to attract over 1.5 million participants, and we estimate approximately over 150,000 boarding the Bluenose II.” “That is a very, very large number for us,” he said. “The mandate for the province is to preserve and promote the legacy of the Bluenose II.”
The Bluenose II’s Great Lakes tour is going to start from Toronto on June 27. Then the vessel will head to Buffalo, N.Y.; Cleveland, Ohio; Bay City, Mich.; Green Bay, Wis.; Kenosha, Wis.; Sarnia, Ont.; Kingsville, Ont.; Erie, Pa.; Brockville, Ont., before coming back home to Lunenburg on Sept. 12. It will be again in Halifax for other four days between Sept. 22 and Sept. 25.
“The captain and the crew were very excited about the opportunity to share Nova Scotia maritime heritage with hundreds of thousands of new friends throughout Ontario, New York, Michigan and beyond,” said Sajatovich.
This will be the Bluenose II’s first tour of the Great Lakes in 20 years, Leo Glavine, communities, culture and heritage minister, said in an emailed statement. “She is an ambassador to the province and in great demand from ports across Canada and the United States,” the minister said.
The government considers the Great Lakes tour a chance to tell others about the province’s heritage. “Tourism Nova Scotia is working with us to help maximize this really important key marketing opportunity for Nova Scotia throughout Ontario and the United States,” said Sajatovich.
Traditionally, the Bluenose II spends the summer in Nova Scotia waters. “We’re planning on spending the next two sailing seasons, after this season, also in Nova Scotia,” said Sajatovich.
The vessel is approaching its centennial in 2021. “We do recognize that the Bluenose is an important tourist attraction,” said Sajatovich. “We also think that the province has a responsibility to promote tourism, by sometimes going to markets large markets like Toronto, Cleveland, and other ports to draw attention.”
The original Bluenose was launched as a Grand Banks fishing and racing schooner on March 26, 1921, in Lunenburg. It was designed by William Roué and built by the Smith and Rhuland Shipyard.
The schooner won its first Fishermen’s Trophy in October 1921. No American or Canadian challenger could wrest the trophy from the ship for 17 years. The Bluenose struck a reef off Isle aux Vache, Haiti, in 1946. In 1963, Bluenose II was built and launched by a local brewery and was gifted to the Government of Nova Scotia in 1971.
The Bluenose II went into a refit, announced in the fall of 2009 that, in the end, became a new build from the keel up. Plagued by cost overruns that doubled the cost to more than $25 million, delays added six years to a two-year schedule.