Posted by: Bob Fisher | May 9, 2009

The Day Nova Scotia Sailed Into Toronto Harbour

The Ambassador

She came with a purpose. Bound and determined, on a mission, and with her usual grace, elegance, and aplomb, Bluenose II entered Toronto Harbour. And she brought with her the best and brightest of Nova Scotia.

The occasion was Toronto’s first ever Nautical Festival. And as the major sponsor of the event, Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture, and Heritage had carefully charted its course. Furthermore, the venue was also appropriate to a Maritime province that epitomizes people working together for a common goal, great harbours, and people-friendly harbourfront design. Having said that, I must emphasize that comparing Halifax harbour and the ever-growing Toronto Harbourfront, is like comparing apples and oranges … or lobster and sushi.

But this was also a great opportunity for Nova Scotia to dialogue directly with one of its prime markets, central Canada — and lots of tourists from hither and yon who thought they were in Toronto just to see Toronto. And let’s be fully cognizant of the fact that this was a major marketing initiative for the ever-resourceful Nova Scotians who know well how to promote what they have to offer — which of course is great product! So alongside their Minister of Tourism and one other member of the provincial legislature, over 30 travel suppliers, heritage site representatives, tour operators, individual destinations, artists and musicians, and media relations specialists turned Toronto’s Harbourfront into a wee bit of Nova Scotia.

You could almost smell the salt air.

Images and imagery: Nova Scotia entertains in Toronto Harbour

To view a slide show of this unique meeting of minds, click here.

Bluenose II: a Canadian ship of state

Tall ships are legends unto themselves; above all they embody the great sailing age when travel and commerce on this planet made a great leap forward. Their very nature is that of high adventure, courage, and vision. Iconic and of a beauty that defies description, the tall ships are still the purveyors of good fortune and resourcefulness.

But there is no tall ship quite like Bluenose II. She is one of our most distinguished ambassadors. Embedded in the Canadian psyche, she is also a living symbol of our identity, of the Canadian sense of self, and she is the embodiment of Canadian self-determination. In this latter regard, she may be Nova Scotia’s greatest gift to the Canadian people.

To explore the history and legacy of Bluenose II visit The Bluenose II Preservation Trust.

To take a virtual tour of Bluenose II, click here.

Real folks from Nova Scotia telling it as it is

As you can probably tell, I am a great fan of Nova Scotia. But, as they say, don’t take my word for it; the travel and tourism representatives from all across this quintessential Canadian maritime province can say it better than I can.

So… take your pick. Sit back and listen to a bunch of terrific people talk about the place they are passionate about.

(a) Bill Dukes, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage for the Province of Nova Scotia

Local boy makes good

(b) Pipe Major Andrew Bruce and Piper Pamela Newcombe from the Halifax Citadel

Military history and music

(c) Diane Heisler, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg and Nova Scotia’s maritime and seafaring legacy

Why Europeans came to the New World

(d) Stefani Angelopoulos, Pier 21, and Canadian immigration history

Roots and oral history

(f) Sergent Jean Larivière and the Fortress of Louisbourg

Geopolitics in the 17th century

(g) Saint Joseph de Louisbourg, et forteresse «capitale» de la Nouvelle France

L’histoire de guerre et du Nouveau Monde

(h) Scott Rideout, Canadian Sailing Expeditions, and experiential cruising on a Nova Scotian tall ship

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky…

(i) Anne Chisholm, The Bay Hammock Company and Artisans At Work

Tangible history

(j) David DeWolfe, the Dutch Mason Blues Festival, and Nova Scotia’s musical heritage

A musicologist’s dream destination

(k) Dan Myers, Oak Island Resorts, and the South Shore of Nova Scotia

A day tripper’s delight

(l) Nicole Boudreau, Acadienne, Tourism Development Officer, Digby County; and the Nova Scotia-Acadian-Cajun connection

Continental Nova Scotia

(m) Donna Hatt, White Point Beach Resort (“mussel bake beach”), and getting unplugged in Nova Scotia

Bliss by the sea

(n) Lynn Hayne, Sherbrooke Village, and Nova Scotia as a heritage travel destination


(o) Glen MacDonald, Cape Breton Resorts; the Cape Breton Trail, fiddlers, and the celidh

To the heart of New Scotland

(p) Paul Emmons, Ambassatours; and an overview of the Nova Scotian travel and tourism industry

Open for business

(q) Sarah Hennebury and Halifax: a youth-oriented city; world-class historic harbour; cruise ship port of call; arts scene; and great four-seasons getaway

A city for all seasons

(r) Jason Pittman, Chief Officer, Bluenose II

Iconic Nova Scotia

(s) Randy Brooks, Manager of Media Relations, Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture and Heritage

Reality-based people

Special Thanks to Pam Levy

Pam is a member of the Mic Mac nation, the “First Peoples” aboriginal nation with whom the first European settlers, in what would come to be Nova Scotia, lived in harmony. Also very much a people of the land and the sea, the Mic Mac are indigenous to Canada’s Atlantic provinces. Her original music and compositions are heard in the openings and closings of the above audio segments.

Farewell to Nova Scotia

As Bluenose II glided gently into its berth at Toronto Harbourfront, the band (almost on cue) was playing Farewell to Nova Scotia.

The sun was setting in the west,

The birds were singing on every tree.

All nature seemed inclined for to rest

But still there was no rest for me.


Farewell to Nova Scotia, you sea-bound coast,

Let your mountains dark and dreary be.

For when I am far away on the briny ocean tossed,

Will you ever heave a sigh and a wish for me?

What may be the most popular folk song from Nova Scotia, and the province’s unofficial anthem, the song was believed to have been composed just prior to or during the First World War. For those who fall in love with Nova Scotia, it has a very Proustian quality, not only in evoking remembrance of time past — an era of “wooden ships and iron men” — but also of deep-felt memories of travelling in the province.

Many versions of the song can be heard on the Internet, but two of my favourites are the following:

Farewell to Nova Scotia, instrumental version

Farewell to Nova Scotia, a family affair

Where do you want to go in traveller-friendly Nova Scotia?

As I point out in the article “Media Wise Nova Scotia,” this province does a superb job of preparing travellers for a visit to Nova Scotia. The “Doers’ and Dreamers'” guide is especially useful.

The Tourism Department of Nova Scotia has divided the province into seven regions, all very accessible:

Halifax Metro

South Shore

Yarmouth & Acadian Shores

Fundy Shore & Annapolis Valley

Northumberland Shore

Cape Breton Island

Eastern Shore

The “Doers’ and Dreamers'” guide also contains a full listing of tour operators and other travel services offered throughout the province.


The Nova Scotia official website

The Nova Scotia Museum (a “Family of Provincial Museums”)

A Culinary Guide to Nova Scotia

Discover the Wines of Nova Scotia

Toronto Tourism

Read other articles about Nova Scotia

The Spirits of Halifax: Memories That Materialize

The Legacy of Port Royal

Luke the Canine Trail Guide

Media Wise Nova Scotia

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” — Seneca, Roman philosopher (mid-First Century AD)

… And before we go, I recommend “Rick Mercer at the Fortress of Louisbourg”


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