IT’S BLUENOSES AND NOT BLUENOSERS (May 31/02)

I erred in my column of April 26 on why Nova Scotians are called Bluenoses. I used the term “Bluenosers” twice in the column and this is incorrect. Wolfville historical writer L. S. Loomer recent wrote to set the record straight, pointing out that the right term is Bluenoses.

“No! We are no more Bluenosers than we are Nover Scotians,” Mr. Loomer wrote. “It is doubly insulting when people can not get a traditional insult spoken and spelled correctly. We are Bluenoses.

“As you mentioned, potatoes were bluenoses before people were. Dorothy Duncan, who wrote a book she entitled Bluenose, a Portrait of Nova Scotia (Toronto, Collins, 1946) also mentioned the potatoes but really dodged the subject by recounting an unlikely explanation from Sir Charles G. D. Roberts. Earlier than John F. Masters potato commentary, there was Ruth Wood’s The Tourist’s Maritime Provinces (1915). On page 104 she states:

‘In his preface to The Old Judge, or Life in a Colony (American edition, 1849) Haliburton accounts for the derivation of the term Blue Nose as applied to Nova Scotians. He affirms it to be a sobriquet acquired from a superior potato of that name…. In confirmation of this theory we have an old invoice which records the shipment to Boston in the year 1787 of a consignment of potatoes which consisted in part of roses and blue noses. The name is given to all Nova Scotians but especially says another writer to that portion of the population descended from pre-Loyalists, that is, those who emigrated from New England before and during the Revolutionary War, as distinguished from those who came after it.’

“Both Grolier’s Encyclopaedia Canadiana and Hertig’s Canadian Encyclopaedia are wrong in stating that the application to people originated with T. C. Haliburton. It did not, as Ms. Wood mentions.

“I can not cite chapter and verse, but I seem to recall that the Rev. Jacob Bailey, a Loyalist refugee in Annapolis, probably in the 1780s, mentioned the derogatory use applying to pre-Loyalists or Planters. The early settlers referred to the Loyalists as refugees in much the way that the abbreviation DP (displaced person) was in use after the Second World War. The Loyalists retaliated by calling the early settlers Bluenoses after the potatoes.”

Continuing on, Mr. Loomer notes that Haliburton used the word Bluenoses numerous times in his books to refer to the old settlers and to Nova Scotians in general, not once spelling the term with an r.

“The misspelling ‘Bluenoser’ seems to be very recent. The earliest I noticed this misspelling was in the Daily Noser, that newspaper of recent origin in Halifax, which deliberately and constantly misspells the word. The misspelling may be an imported Uppity Canadian perversity, or it may be genuinely Haligonian.

“Evidence appears to show clearly that the traditional anti-Planter word is Bluenose (with or without the capital and usually with Haliburton’s hyphen. Let’s keep it that way.”

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