Bluenose Ferry - A Chronological History of Events
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The idea of having a ferry named Bluenose running between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor Maine first  started in 1949.  It however took almost six years before the ferry actually materialized.  During that period, there were several sequences of events, red tape and political interventions that lead from one delay to another until the ferry made it's first arrival in Yarmouth in  January 1956.




Canada and Nova Scotia agree to invest in construction of new ferry


1949 ( late )

Canadian Maritime Commission starts reviewing possible sites in New England for building ferry terminal for new proposed ferry. At least dozen possible sites selected, but from beginning Bar Harbor has the edge because it is closest to Yarmouth, has deep water, paved roads and a history of service to people on vacation.


1949 - Nov, Dec

Bar Harbor President of Chamber of Commerce announce to the press that they have been talking to the Canadian Maritime Commission for several months about Bar Harbor for the site of the proposed ferry.


1949 - December 7th

Canada Transport Minister announces that the federal and Nova Scotia governments will share the capital cost of a $3 million ferry that will run between Yarmouth and the state of Maine. While the Transport Minister formally thanks the Chamber of  Commerce president by mail for their information and support from Bar Harbor, a selection has not been made known at this time


1950 January 23

John D Rockefeller Jr writes from New York to Lester B Pearson Minister of External Affairs and states that since it has been announced that Maine will get the ferry, he understands that Nova Scotia representatives are in favor of Boston as the destination.

The purpose of Mr Rockefeller's letter to the Canada's External Affairs Minister was to indicate his full support and to find if a decision has been made or how Bar Harbor citizens could further assist with a decision.


1950 - Feb 14

Pearson acknowledges letter and advised he has been away but has forward his concern to the Canadian Maritime Commission.


1950 March 13

Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia meet in Halifax to discuss the ferry and announce that it will be a joint venture and that CNR would perate the vessel.

The detailed design is being prepared by naval architects Milne, Gilemore and German of Montreal and will be 350 feet long, 66 feet wide, have 5 decks , room for 200 vehicles and 1000 passengers.

When asked by T.Kirk MP Digby-Yarmouth when the vessel will be

ready for service, Minister of Transport Lionel Chevrier states Summer



1950 April 22

Delegates visit Bar Harbor to inspect area, no commitments announced although suspicion that some representatives favoured Bar Harbor.


1950 May 8

Maine Port Authority makes a premature announcement to press that Bar Harbor has been selected as destination for new ferry. Since no official announcement was made by the Canadian government, a call from a Bar Harbor official to Bangor stopped the article from being printed in local papers.



1950 June 5

Minister of Transport Lionel Chevrier responds to questions by T.Kirk MP for Digby-Yarmouth and indicates that Canadian governments have not signed a formal finance agreement to build the vessel, a site for the Maine terminal has not been selected -and- not only Yarmouth but several other ports are being considered in Nova Scotia.

Additionally, delays in building and delivery of materials could postpone the service until 1952.


1950 August 8

Bar Harbor officials attend a meeting at the Canadian Maritime Commission in Ottawa.  They are told that other Maine towns have been advised that Bar Harbor has the most to offer with a round trip daily service.  They are also told if Bar Harbor fails to provide the facilities that they need, then Canada is prepared to negotiate with other towns. ‘Our attitude is that Bar Harbor should be prepared to contribute something if they want the ferry


1950 November 17

By this point, Canada has announce that Yarmouth and Bar Harbor have been chosen for the ports of the new ferry. Transport Minister announces that due to steel shortages, construction of the new ferry has been temporarily suspended.


Bar Harbor is advised to continue to lobby for the construction of the new terminal.  At a special town meeting, it is voted unanimously in favour to follow Canada's recommendation to proceed and to purchase the Stotesbury property on Eden Street for the terminal.


1951 January 11

Minister of Transport Lionel Chevrier responds to Deputy Mayor of

Yarmouth Willard Allen and indicates that since December, the situation of steel shortages from United States has worsened due to the Korean War.


1951 December 12

Conservative MP George C Nowlan from Annapolis Valley advises

Yarmouth Deputy Mayor that he has been privately advised by Minister of Transport that steel is now available that he will be shortly making an announcement as to when the ferry will definitely be constructed.


1952 March 7

Letter from Minister of Transport to Yarmouth Deputy Mayor Allen

advises that ‘The steel situation at this time will not allow us to proceed

with vessel construction even though all plans are ready and tenders

can be called on short notice.'


1952 March 19

Minister of Transport  is asked in the House of Commons  by

Conservative MP George C Nowlan as to when the government will

call tenders for vessel construction and replied ‘As soon as the steel

situation improves sufficiently.'


1952 June 20

In the House of Commons, Minister of Transport announces that after

reviewing the situation of scarce materials and consultation with Premier of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Maritime Commission,  tenders can proceed for the construction of the ferry.


The legislature of Maine has already authorized the construction of approaches, pier head and conduction of the ferry terminal.


The size of the vessel has started to shrink from that of the original proposal and is now at 600 passengers ( originally 1000) and 150 automobiles ( originally 200 ).  Length with be 348 feet, 65 feet wide. It is expected to be in operation sometime in 1953.


1952 June 26

Bar Harbor news headline - Canadian Ferry Certain for next year.


1952 July 9

Maine Port Authority is presented with blueprints of the vessel and assurances are provided that the terminal will be built at Bar Harbor.


1952 August

Copies of memorandum demanding the construction of the ferry terminal at Yarmouth are provided to Canadian Public Works Minister Alphonse Fournier.  It is revealed that Parliament has not allocated the funds for the construction and also that the Federal Government have not purchased the required land at this point.


1952 October 9

Yarmouth Light newspaper reports that Liberal MP T. Kirk has announced that tenders will be opened next week for the construction of the ship and that the Yarmouth Terminal will be ready when the vessel goes into service in 1954.



To be continued .....