Nova Scotia Archives

Bluenose: A Canadian Icon

Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

In the autumn of 1938, the two most famous Grand Banks fishing schooners of them all — the Bluenose and the Gertrude L. Thebaud — came together once again in a series of races off Gloucester and Boston. The age of sail was over, very few salt-bankers were still afloat, and those that did remain were old, tired and water-logged; it was generally acknowledged that these would be the last races ever held for the International Fishermen's Trophy. As it turned out, the series was laced with bitterness and controversy, and in the end Angus Walters declared "the Bluenose, as long as I am Master, will never race again in the United States."

Bluenose was long past its prime and immediately upon arrival in Gloucester, there were arguments regarding how much ballast it needed or should be allowed to carry. In the first encounter, on 9 October, the schooner lost its foretopmast and Thebaud won by nearly three minutes. In the next race, Bluenose came roaring back to show just why it was a legend — in spite of blowing the staysail in half, it crossed the finish line nearly twelve minutes ahead of Thebaud.

The third race was declared void — Thebaud won by a mile, but it was a glassy sea and both vessels exceeded the time limit. Bluenose took the make-up race on 23 October by six minutes and thirty-nine seconds; lost the next race by five minutes; and on 26 October, in light winds and in spite of breaking the topsail halyard near the finish-line, took the final race by less than three minutes. It had been a close thing, but Bluenose sailed home to Lunenburg, the winner of three races out of five — and still the Queen of the North Atlantic Fishing Fleet.


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International Fishermen's Races off Boston and Gloucester
Date: 9 October 1938
Credit: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
Reference no.: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic  FMA

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Bluenose at A.M. Smith wharf, Halifax
Date: 1938
Photographer: William Ringsleben
Reference no.: William Ringsleben Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1992-324 no. 1

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

On board Bluenose
Date: 1938
Photographer: William Ringsleben
Reference no.: William Ringsleben Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1992-324 no. 2

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Looking up the spar of Bluenose
Date: 1938
Photographer: William Ringsleben
Reference no.: William Ringsleben Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1992-324 no. 3

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Looking up the spar of Bluenose
Date: 1938
Photographer: William Ringsleben
Reference no.: William Ringsleben Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1992-324 no. 4

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Riggers scramble to fit a jib
Date: 1938
Photographer: W.R. MacAskill
Reference no.: W.R. MacAskill Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-453 no. 304

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Marion Faulkenham, Mrs. Lawrence Allen & Jean
Date: 1938
Credit: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
Reference no.: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic  FMA, F93.1650.3

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Mrs. Sweeney (left) and unidentified woman (right), 1938 trip
Date: 1938
Credit: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
Reference no.: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic  FMA, F97.276.1B

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Bluenose
Date: 1938
Photographer: W.R. MacAskill
Reference no.: W.R. MacAskill Nova Scotia Archives 20040079

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Ben Pine
Date: 1938
Photographer: W.R. MacAskill
Reference no.: W.R. MacAskill Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-453 no. 449

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Bluenose crew, 1938
Date: 1938
Credit: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
Reference no.: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic  FMA

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Crowd at dock for opening of fish pier off Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1938
Date: 1938
Credit: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
Reference no.: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic  FMA

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Bluenose racing off Boston
Date: 1938
Photographer: W.R. MacAskill
Reference no.: W.R. MacAskill Nova Scotia Archives 20040081

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Bluenose
Date: 1938
Photographer: W.R. MacAskill
Reference no.: W.R. MacAskill Nova Scotia Archives 20040082

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)

Bluenose
Date: 1938
Photographer: W.R. MacAskill
Reference no.: W.R. MacAskill Nova Scotia Archives 20040083

Theme: Last International Fishermen’s Cup Race (1938)
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