Angus Walters was born on June 9, 1881 and died on August 11, 1968 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Angus Walters one of the last "Real Sailors"
THE STORY OF THE SCHOONER BLUENOSE AND IT'S CAPTAIN ANGUS WALTERS
In the summer of 1920 many Canadian fisherman who followed the America's Cup Yachting Championship were increasingly frustrated because every time there was a strong breeze the organizers called off the race. They grumbled and complained that these contests were for men in whites and boats with tender hulls and questioned why not show these fancy yachtsmen what working schooners manned by real sailors could do. William H. Dennis, the owner of the Halifax Herald, heard these voices and donated a trophy toward a race for working sailors called the International Fishermen's Race and threw down the gauntlet to the seaman of New England challenging them to meet the Maritimes Best in a "Race for Real Sailors" The trophy would be awarded to the fastest vessel in the North Atlantic fishing fleet and as a result the International Fishermen's Series Race was born.
In order to see who would represent Canada in the First International Fishermen's Series Race they held an elimination trial. Angus Walters, who would eventually skipper the Bluenose participated in the elimination but his schooner, Gilbert S. Walters, broke a mast and he lost in the trial. The winner of the Canadian trials was the schooner Delawana skippered by Thomas Himmelman. The Americans held similar trials and their winner was the schooner Esperanto skippered by Marty Welch. The stage was now set for the first International Fishermen's Series Race. The first International Fishermen's Series Race was over a 40 mile ocean course, tool place on October 30, 1920 and to the surprise and shock of many in Nova Scotia the American schooner easily defeated the Canadian entry. The best of three race had the Americans winning the first by twenty minutes and the second by seven minutes.
To avenge this loss a group of Halifax businessmen got together and formed a racing committee. They approached Halifax marine archtect William J. Roué to design a ship and asked Angus Walters to be its skipper. There were four major shareholders but a great deal of the $35,000.00 raised to construct this vessel was done through the purchase of shares at $100.00 each. The Zwicker and Co. of Lunenburg was a major shareholder of the Bluenose, had a hand in outfitting her and acted as the agent for the purchase of these shares.
Wiilain J. Roué marine architect
The Bluenose was launched at the Smith and Rhuland Shipyard on March 26, 1921 and on April 15, 1921 the Bluenose left for the Grand Banks. By fishing a complete season the Bluenose fulfilled a main requirement as a competitor in the International Series. So as not to be taken over by "yachting types" the racing schooners had to be real fishing vessels and had to have fished a full season to qualify. At the time a full fishing season extended from April to September. In 1923 the Bluenose had a record season catching over 646,000 lbs. of cod and held the record of the biggest catch of fish ever brought into Lunenburg.
If you look closely at the picture of the original Bluenose you will notice that the Square and Compasses are etched in her stern. This was by no means a mistake but instead a source of great pride. At least three of the four major shareholders were Masons. William J. Roué, the marine architect, who designed the Bluenose was a Mason. Angus Walters, the Captain of the Bluenose, was a Mason. It was reported that many of the men in the shipyard who built her and most of the crew were all Masons.
The Bluenose was similar in construction to other fishing vessels built in that same shipyard, although radically different in design. When the architect who designed her was asked the secret to the vessels success William J. Roué answered "I gave her the power to carry sail". It is said that during the construction of the Bluenose, Angus Walters was at the shipyard every day and by the time the ship was ready to launch he knew every inch of her. Many years later a former crew member being interviewed said "they could build ships forever and a day in Gloucester Massachusetts and never build a ship that could beat that Bluenose, maybe, maybe in calm waters, but you give her 25 knots of wind and the devil in hell couldn't catch her"
On October 24, 1921 the Bluenose raced against and defeated the American schooner Elise to win the second International Cup. In subsequent years the Bluenose captained by Angus Walters raced and defeated American schooners Henry Ford and the Columbia. The last International Fishermen's Series Race took place in October of 1938. The seventeen year old Bluenose raced against the eight year old Gertrude L. Thebaud near Gloucester and Boston and was successful in defending her title. The Bluenose was never defeated in an International Fishermen's Series Race and remained undefeated in seventeen years. The Bluenose earned the nickname "Queen of the North Atlantic"
Angus Walters with one of his many trophies
The Bluenose was world famous and Angus Walters and his crew were admired for their spirit of adventure, their courage and for their resourcefulness in the face of unrelenting danger at sea. In 1933 the Bluenose represented Canada at the 'Century of Progress' World's Fair in Chicago and in 1935 she sailed to the Silver Jubilee of King George V of England.
Captain Angus Walters eventually became the sole owner of the Bluenose but by 1942 the cost to maintain the schooner was more then he could afford. Although Angus Walters desperately tried to find investors it was wartime and there were none to be found. Angus Walters was extremely upset with the Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments, that they could not find the money to make the Bluenose a national treasure after she had brought so much pride to Canada, Nova Scotia and Lunenburg. She was eventually sold to two Americans who paid him $20,000.00 in cash and later that year the Bluenose began the final chapter in her career as a freighter for the West Indies Trading Company. The schooner Bluenose was known and respected by seafaring men everywhere, so much so that it is said that during the War, while she was carrying wartime cargo, a German U-Boat surfaced alongside her and its Commander hailed the Bluenose saying "you are the Bluenose and if I didn't love that boat I'd shell you right now"
On January 28, 1946 the Bluenose struck a reef off of Haiti was damaged beyond repair, abandoned and eventually broke apart. When the news of the loss of the Bluenose reached Lunenburg, Angus Walters was devastated. They say "part of him died that night". Words cannot describe how much Angus Walters loved that boat. One of his closest friends stated "it was like somone stabbed him in the heart". The Bluenose was his Queen and he was her Captain.
The image of the Bluenose has adorned the Canadian dime since 1937. The artist Emanual Hahn claims to have used the Bluenose and two other schooners as his inspiration. For years it has always been believed that the schooner was the Bluenose and on March 15, 2002 the Royal Canadian Mint finally officially recognized the image depicted on the Canadian dime to be the schooner Bluenose.
The schooner Bluenose depicted on the Canadian dime
Angus Walters passed to the GLA on August 11, 1968 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. He was 87 years of age. He was a member of Unity Lodge No. 4 in Lunenburg Nova Scotia.
The Bluenose is the nickname for this 50 cent postage stamp issued on January 8, 1929
The Schooner Bluenose ll was launched in Lunenburg on July 24, 1963 from the same shipyard as the original. This replica was built at a cost of $300.000.00 for Oland Brewery as a marketing tool for their Schooner Lager beer brand.