July 24, 1963, what a day in our history. With the push of Nova Scotia and some government help the Oland family undertook to recreate an icon in Canadian History. This was quite a responsibility to undertake both financially and logistically. Bluenose has a special place in many people's hearts. In the sixties, dory fishing was still being practiced on the Grand Banks, Bluenose was lost only 17 years prior, and the scar was still fresh, particularly on the south shore of Nova Scotia. The Oland family, together with William Roué and Scotia Trawler created another special vessel.
In the subsequent 60 years, Bluenose II has had many victories and we, her caretakers, have failed her on occasion. Since 1971 when the Oland family sold Bluenose II to the government of Nova Scotia, her mission has varied little: promote Nova Scotia, preserve traditional seafaring practices, preserve the history of Bluenose and the Grand Banks fishery, and promote work ethic and life skills within our young crew. These are large ideas, and goals and the methods used to achieve them has changed dramatically, but the base remains the same.
In 1969, Bluenose's biggest tragedy was the loss of seaman Neil Robitaille. Neil was 22 years old from Comeau's Hill, NS. Swept overboard with shipmate Craig Harding, Neil was lost at sea. By some small miracle and great efforts by the crew, Craig was saved from the clutches of Neptune. This loss is still felt today and has ripples through the lives of everybody involved afloat and ashore.
In 1971 Nova Scotia Tourism presented a float in the famed Rose Bowl Parade and won awards for design. This was a tremendous coup for a small province in Canada to be presented to the eyes of the world through the lens of William Roués famed design.
In 1976, Bluenose attended one of the largest North American Tall Ships festivals ever held with Opsail ‘76, with Ships from around the world gathering on the East Coast to celebrate the United States bicentennial. With the Grand Parade held in New York harbour, Bluenose II won the hearts of many and was featured in print, film, and television.
As times change, our methods change, now with a great focus on the internet and social media. Our latest promotional trip was just before covid and involved travel deep into the Great Lakes. With 120,000 guests crossing the decks, over 100 media interviews and tens of millions of impressions on social media, Bluenose II and her young crew are still a valid tool to promote Nova Scotia. We can’t take the Cape Breton Highlands or Peggy's Cove to Toronto, but we can take Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador!
We, the current caretakers of the Bluenose Legacy, still value the story behind us and the future ahead. We believe in taking young people to sea, telling the story of this, our Canadian icon and promoting Nova Scotia as a world class place to visit or live. Like Bluenose II’s history, not everything is perfect and there continue to be flaws, but there is no better place or group of people better suited to make a better and brighter future.