It was a cool wet day in Nova Scotia as we made our way to a small place outside of Truro Nova Scotia. Every since I heard about it I wanted to see it, the building of the Schooner Lena Blanche.
My wife Linda and I had returned to Nova Scotia to attend a visitation for a friend who passed away. Although a sad occasion to return for, it was also a wonderful opportunity to connect with friends and an adopted family. Through those connections, we found ourselves pulling into the yard of Warren and his wife Andrea.
For the past 10 years they have been building a 70 foot wooden schooner in their back yard. When it is finished, the main mast will rise 60 feet in the air. It is impossible to appreciate the size of such an undertaking unless you see it for yourself. Warren and Andrea have poured 1000’s of hours into the build, designing the schooner, milling all the wood on site, laminating and steam bending huge beams, rebuilding the two diesel motors for power without sail, fabricating stainless steel anchors, casting bronze fittings, etc. I heard Andrea hammered in all of the wooden Trunn’ls for the planking (over 9,000, each requiring about 25 hits). Trunn’ls are square wooden pegs hammered into round holes attaching the planking. Here is a YouTube video of the process. If you would like a tour of the ship, here is another video with Andrea as your tour guide.
We had a wonderful afternoon talking with Warren and Andrea about the build. Over coffee and dessert, Warren regaled us with stories of his youth, a family who taught him to build boats, spending years learning the many skills required, and reminiscing about life near and on the ocean. There was lots of laughter, and a story or two I will not soon forget, especially one about lessons on handling dynamite with his brother when they were teenagers. I will leave the details of that story for another time.
Years ago, there was something unique I discovered about the Maritimes. It comes part and parcel with living off the sea; a can-do attitude which knows few limits. Where there is a will there is a way, and if you are not sure of the way, well there is bound to be someone who can help you figure it out. The Lena Blanche is testament to a way of looking at life and the future, which is both inspiring and humbling. If you go to the blog page, or you walk into huge building where the ship is being built, you will find a list of people whose assistance and expertise have helped bring the dream to life. It is a can-do attitude anchored in community.
I have deep roots in the Maritimes. It is a place where I met people who came alongside of me, helped me get up when I fell, and instilled a can-do attitude that values the gift of community.
As we look to the future, occasionally glancing back at the difficult two years we have been through, my hope is first; we do not lost sight of the ability to dream big. Second, as we dream about building a better, growing, caring organization, we take on the challenge with a determined effort to engage and build the community that makes up Initiatives for Just Communities. Just as the dream of the Lena Blanche could not have become reality without a community effort, so our dreams for IJC cannot become a reality without an openness to working together as an inclusive community committed to diversity and respect for everyone.