The name of Nova Scotia's famous schooner came from a nickname for Nova Scotians that dates back to 1785. The term "Bluenose" is widely known today thanks to the legacy of the vessel that proudly bears the name. There are a few theories as to its origins, but like any good Nova Scotian tale, the true story depends on whom you ask.
A popular story points to handmade mittens as the source of the Bluenose moniker. Wives of fishermen knitted mittens for their husbands to wear at sea, using a cheap blue dye for colouring. Cold wet conditions and blowing winds caused runny noses for the hearty fishermen. Constantly wiping their noses with mitten covered hands, the cheap blue dye ran and coloured the fishermen's noses blue.
Potatoes from the Annapolis Valley
Blue-skinned potatoes were once a staple crop in the Annapolis Valley. Ask anyone from the fertile farming region and they'll tell you that "Bluenose" was certainly coined due to the tint of their tubers.
The cranky clergyman
The first recorded use of "Bluenose" is credited to the Reverend Jacob Bailey, a Loyalist clergyman living in Annapolis Royal after the American Revolution.
In 1785, he wrote a letter to a friend complaining about the outcome of recent elections. Referring to the opposing political party, comprised of longtime residents, the upset Reverend wrote: "The blue noses exerted themselves to the utmost of their power and cunning."
Thomas Chandler Haliburton
According to the Oxford dictionary, author Thomas Chandler Haliburton was the first to use the term "Bluenose" in published text in 1838.
His character Sam Slick was a travelling clock salesman always looking to hook a customer with his slick sales pitch. He described the typical gullible response he anticipated from a Nova Scotian: "When bluenose hears that, he thinks he's got a bargain."