Lunenburg — As fishing stories go, this one is considered a whopper by hundreds of outraged Nova Scotians.
This week, New Brunswick unveiled more of its #NBProud campaign by asserting that the genesis of the historic Bluenose schooner — made iconic by its appearance on the Canadian dime — was due to New Brunswick, not Nova Scotia.
This controversial claim comes only days after New Brunswick’s provincial government revealed its Canada 150 slogan, “Celebrate Where It All Began.” New Brunswick’s campaign slogan has led some to question if the Picture Province is stretching the truth too far by ostensibly maintaining that Confederation began in the province. It is a widely acknowledged point of P.E.I. provincial pride that Charlottetown is the birthplace of Confederation.
New Brunswick justified its “Where It All Began” slogan saying New Brunswick is a founding province of Canada. In 1861, the lieutenant governor of New Brunswick was pushing for a union of the Maritime provinces with himself as its head of state. The fathers of Confederation seized upon this ambition and evolved those plans into a larger union of 4 founding provinces –New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.
Now, using similarly tenuous logic to justify its claim, the New Brunswick tourism department is saying that the Bluenose would never had been constructed if not for a New Brunswicker.
The story begins in 1920 with a devastating loss to the Yanks during the first official race between Canadian and American sailing ships and crews who fished the Grand Banks. Halifax had bragged that their real sailors could easily beat the Americans. However, the American ship — albeit captained by a Nova Scotian — beat the Canadian ship causing many bruised egos.
The night after losing the race, a New Brunswick-born jerk named Francis Sharp was at the pub where the Canadian crew and the Haligonian who sponsored the contest were drowning their sorrows. Sharp had had a few too many ales, as per usual, and could not resist the temptation to taunt the bitterly disappointed Nova Scotians.
“How did that race work out for you today?” slurred Sharp loudly from the barstool. “Pretty embarrassing… challenging the Americans to a race and then totally blowing it! Ain’t that a choice bit of calico!” he laughed, making rude gestures with his hands.
“Shut up, Frank,” advised the bartender quietly. “They aren’t in the mood.”
Sharp didn’t heed the warning, continuing to bluntly mock the losers. “Not so hotsy-totsy now, are we?” he razzed. “Now everyone knows that you are all full of applesauce!” Sharp’s belligerent insults continued for more than an hour.
Finally, rising from their table and going nose-to-nose with the drunk, the ship’s captain said, “Go chase yourself, Sharp — you old dewdropper!!” before storming out of the bar. In a rage, the crew of Nova Scotians vowed they would never lose the race again. The next day, they started working with their financiers to build the legendary Bluenose. Starting in 1921, it won the next 17 consecutive races — becoming a Canadian icon.
“If not for Francis Sharp, the Bluenose would have never been built,” said New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant. “We are taking credit for a New Brunswicker being the reason behind the birth of a legend.” When asked point-blank if that claim was true, Gallant said, “Since last year’s political campaigns, the concept of truth in politics is kind of a fluid thing. Let’s just say it’s close enough.”