Peter Wademan, Elsie, 24″ x 20″, O/C
In this painting by Peter Wademan, Elsie, the schooner is anchored in Gloucester Harbor. On January 20, 1935, the famous schooner Elsie was lost in the Gulf if St. Lawrence after a long and exciting career as a fishing and racing vessel. Elsie was built in 1910 at the Arthur D. Story shipyard in Essex and was designed by Capt. Thomas McManus. She was described as , “smart, able and beautiful”, and had the privilege of challenging the Bluenose in the International Fishemans Races in 1921.
In October 1921, after a season fishing on the Grand Banks, Bluenose defeated Gloucester’s Elsie and brought the trophy home. In an 18-year racing career Bluenose did not give up the trophy; the American schooners Henry Ford, Columbia, and Gertrude L. Thebaud, vessels built in an effort to surpass Bluenose‘s remarkable sailing abilities, could not grasp the trophy from her.
The final race series took place in 1938. The Bluenose, by then 17 years of age, defeated the Thebaud one final time. Still handling as smartly as ever, Canada’s most famous sailing vessel was a tribute to the Nova Scotia shipwrights and sailors who built her and many other fishing and cargo schooners.
The Second World War ended the era of the great fishing schooners. Replaced by modern steel trawlers, the fleets of sailing salt-bankers no longer set out to challenge the cruel North Atlantic to reap a harvest of cod for the markets of the world.
A ship model of the Elsie, by Erik Ronneberg, can be see at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester.