SMALL TOWN LIVIN’ – Lunenburg (pop. 2200) is nestled along the shores of Mahone Bay (the South Shore of Nova Scotia). Originally the area was settled by the French until the arrival of the Loyalists in the 1780’s. Lunenberg is a great stop and a must see along your travels! Check out this historical town and marvel at the colorful buildings, the scenic shoreline, the local retail shops, the artisans and have a taste of some real good cuisine. History abounds in this area. Experience the seafaring life, brush up on the Shipbuilding that once dominated the town, discover the story of the famous fishing schooner “The Bluenose” and even learn about the town’s rum running days. The East Coast really Rocks in culture and history! So …go for it!
NS Slang Heritage
EAST COAST HERITAGE VIGNETTE – NOVA SCOTIA PRIVATEERING DURING THE WAR OF 1812 – In June of 1812; the Americans had declared War on England. This period in history greatly affected the East Coast as it put all of our shipping ventures at risk. Let me tell you about a schooner known as the “Liverpool Packet”. It was purchased(in 1811) by a Mr. Enos Collins of Halifax to serve the Nova Scotia Coastal Trade. It had been in service as a former slave runner out of Baltimore Md. It would then sail out of Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
When war broke out; the astute Enos received a “Letter of Marque” from the British Admiralty. This document would make the schooner a legal Pirate Ship. He then heavily armed the boat, crewed it with about 45 sailors and hired Joseph Barrs as it’s Captain. Mr. Barrs came from a seafaring family in Liverpool NS and was already experienced in Privateering. The Packet would lie in wait in the waters off the Coast of Cape Cod to capture ships and cargo destined for Boston or New York. These ships would be sailed to the Halifax harbour where the cargo would then be auctioned off and profits split between the Crew and Enos. The Packet would capture 30 ships before it was finally seized by the Americans and Barrs would be jailed in New Hampshire. The ship was kept in service by the Americans for a short period and would be recaptured by the British. The Packet found its way back to Enos and was refitted with a new captain at it’s helm.(Captain Barrs was still incarcerated) The mighty schooner would go on to capture about 20 more ships; before the War ended in 1814. The old Packet then resumed service as a coastal trader on the East Coast.
Mr. Barrs retired from privateering and settled his family in Kentville NS; where he lived a genteel lif until his demise in1824. Enos invested his profits from his privateering days very wisely. One venture was in banking that would later become the CIBC Bank. He purchased a huge estate; in south end Halifax, that he called Gorsebrook. This property is now the Saint Mary’s University Campus. He died in 1871 and is buried in the Camp Hill Cemetery in Halifax NS. Upon his death; he was reputedly the richest man in Canada! Not too bad for an old Pirate from Liverpool, NS. And now you know …
Picture the year 1921; in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. A quaint little town on this coast where fishing is the dominant industry. Here a fishing schooner is being built to fish the waters of the North Atlantic but it’s also being built to race. It will become a famous racing schooner and known as The Bluenose.
The design of this boat gives it a rather unique look and because of this it’s easily recognized. She is designed for the long, deep sea fishing expeditions on the Grand Banks. So in that design; the inside ballast is placed over the keel and the bow is raised. This feature provides more adequate space for crew members to eat and sleep comfortably while enduring the long hours at sea. Its a big build fin this little community. Anticipation is high. Its comparable to a racehorse in foal; with so much fuss, before it is even launched.
International Fisherman’s Cup
The International Fisherman’s Cup is a very prestigious race between American and Canadian fishing schooners. It’s held on a yearly basis and alternates between Nova Scotia and Massachusetts. Enter The Bluenose. Remember this is the 1920’s. The fishing industry is booming. The crew is well aware they have a fast boat and racing is on their minds.
By 1921; The Blunose is a contender in the Fisherman’s Cup held off the coast of Nova Scotia. You guessed it! The Bluenose won hands down! The same happened in 1922 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The schooner is fastly becoming an International celebrity. She is dubbed “The Queen of the North Atlantic!” In 1923 the race is held in Halifax, NS; with new rules implemented. The race is the best of three and The Blunose takes the first race quite easily. In the second she is disqualified for breaking a rule. Captain Angus Walters has a lot invested in the ship as both her captain and part owner. He appeals the decision. The judges rule against him. A very frustrated Angus hauls the boat out of the competition. In the end; the race is declared a draw and the prize money is shared. After this controversial race; The Fisherman’s Cup takes a 7 year hiatus from racing. Both sides involved are simmering mad about the whole situation and the outcome. A draw is unacceptable!!
In 1930; the Americans (in Gloucester, Mass) build a new ship called “Gertrude L. Thebaud.” Well it turns out that “Little Girtie” is pretty fast. So the owners invite the crew of the Bluenose down for a race. Angus takes the bait.(money is at hand) The Bluenose and her crew head out to give the upstart Americans a lesson in sailing. Well this time; The Bluenose gets beat by Little Girtie. An upset Angus returns home to make some minor adjustments to his schooner. He calls for a rematch to be held in Halifax; in 1931. Well this time she wins and bids adieu to Little Gertie and her crew for awhile.
Bluenose Final Race
Meanwhile; in 1937, the deep sea fishing industry is changing. Gone are the days of having a sailing ship. It is now more favourable to operate the much faster and motorised boats. So to accommodate for this; the masts are removed from The Bluenose and replaced by diesel engines. But it is not the end of the racing days yet. Gerties’ owners are looking to race the Bluenoce once again. Angus is very eager to keep racing! Even under financial strains; he manages to reinstall the masts and removes the diesel engine. In 1938, she sets out for Gloucester to race and win in her final deep sea schooner race.
Back home; the fishing industry is growing. The Bluenose design cannot compete for fish against the newer and faster boats. She gets tied up in the Lunenburg harbour and only goes out to sea periodicaly.
Whatever became of the beloved Bluenose! Well; in 1942; it gets sold to the West Indies Consortium and is converted to a cargo ship for the Carribean coastal trade. In 1946 and laden with bananas, she runs into a reef off the coast of Haiti. The crew is safe but the beloved Bluenose is abandoned, breaks up and slips into the sea; piece by piece. Its a very humbling end to the great ship known as “The Queen of the North Atlantic!”
Did you ever wonder how such a large contingent of Scottish people ended up settling in Nova Scotia? A few settlers were among the earliest arrivals to settle in Nova Scotia but major arrivals did not commence until 1773. A tall ship called “Hector” arrived in Pictou with a large group of Presbyterian Scots from the north east coast of Scotland. You can visit a replica of the ship there today. In 1775; Michael MacDonald moved to the western shore of Cape Breton from Prince Edward Island. Many of his relatives and friends soon joined him and settled the present day Inverness area of Cape Breton. The Roman Catholic Scots followed suit and settled in the Antigonish area. Others soon settled around the Bra D’or Lake region of Cape Breton by 1800.
Scotland; at this time, was extremely over populated. People left their homelands with the prospect of owning land; and not having to live under the whims of landlords. This all cemented their decisions to journey to new beginnings. After 1820; many Scots were forced to evacuate their homes during a time known as “The Clearances”. Landlords in Scotland were evicting their tenants in order to set up more profitable sheep farms. These farms were formed by consolidating many smaller properties into one large farm. This process continued up to 1840. It was over the course if these unsettling years that the Scots settle in Nova Scotia.
Naturally the Scots settled in areas where they had kin and their gaelic language was spoken. The Scots brought their culture to NS but their greatest asset was their enthusiasm to maintain it. Lively fiddle music, the bagpipes, the dance, the highland games and the storytelling through their music were part of all family and community gatherings. Visit here and you can experience and celebrate these wonderful traditions. Immerse yourself in the culture during the Celtic Colors Festival. During this fall celebration there are concerts sharing music and dance, taste the traditional foods and be part of a Ceilidh (kitchen party) and truely experience the Scottish hospitality. “Ceud Mile Failte” which means one hundred thousand welcomes to all visitors.
You know; Nova Scotia is the latin term for New Scotland. It was given this name in 1621 based on some of the earliest arrivals to the area. So you see; this is how the Scots settle in Nova Scotia in droves! We all have a much richer heritage because of it!
Check ou the Scots recipe for Bannoch in Mamma’s East Coast Kitchen. Yum!
Canada’s Ocean Playground
Nova Scotia(or New Scotland) is known as Canada’s Ocean Playground and is The Sea Bound Coast. It’s an isthmus that connects the province to NB. It is surrounded on three sides by the Bay of Fundy, the Northumberland Strait and the Atlantic Ocean. Water..Water every where! Hence the name the Ocean Playgound. The North Mountain Range which is part of the Appalachian Range; extends from Digby up to the Tatamagouche area and to the tip of the Cape Breton. The beautiful Annapolis Valley (known as the Bread Basket of NS)lies at its base. Such beautiful terrain to explore for the curious! Home to some good NS Slang influenced by the Waterways!
The early East Coast settlers to this prosperous area were mainly from Scottish decent. There were numerous ports of entry to this new world but emigration was mainly through the Halifax Harbour. MacNab Island just off the harbour was a holding area for imigrants to be cleared for entry. Pier 21 with its vast displays of historical information enables you to envision the process. Mining sustained generations of settlers in Springhill, Sydney and Pictou County. Museums about the mining industry can be found in Springhill and Glace Bay areas. Fishing, mining, shipping, lumbering and farming were all prosperous industries for NS. The land here is very fertile for agriculture. So this was an attractive landing point for many newcomers seeking a new life and opportunity. The Scots were a large influence to the NS slang you hear here!
Adventures abound in this beautiful coastal province. Sailing, boating, whale watching,camping, skiing, sightseeing, hiking and even surfing are adventures pursued by many. It is very well known for the
The Cape Breton Highlands offer scenic routes through the mountains on the Cabot Trail. Experience the Celtic influence in the NS Heritage and culture of the Scots. Tall ships sailed the waters surrounding NS. The famous Bluenose was built right in Lunenburg. Peggys Cove, Chester are just a few places to experience coastal living at its best. Pirates are known to have frequented NS and the inlets provided places to escape or hide from pursuers. Did Captain Kidd or others stash treasures in the Oak Island area or some other quaint little coastal spots? Nothing can compare to some good old pirate slang. Ahoy me matey! Explore this ocean playground..maybe you might find some treasures!
Experience the Celtic influence in the NS Heritage and culture of the Scots. You can join in on a Ceilidh; a good ol’ fashioned kitchen party, watch highland dancing, listen to gaelic music, taste traditional foods and observe the highland games. Experience and savour the culture of this province and learn some good old Nova Scotia slang while yer there!
- Halifax Jazz Festival
- Apple Blosson Festival in The Annapolis Valley
- The Royal NS International Tattoo in Halifax
- Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso Cape Breton
- Celtic Colors International Festival in Cape Breton
So this coastal living and nautical lifestyle influenced and provided some good ol’ slang talkers. The Scottish influence is very clear here. Below are a few expressions I know but please comment, add your local NS Slang and share your stories about coastal living in beautiful NS. Happy Slangin’.
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