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Governor General takes a sail aboard Bluenose II

Premier Stephen McNeil greets Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.
Premier Stephen McNeil greets Gov. Gen. Julie Payette. - Joshua Healey

During her first official visit to Nova Scotia on June 26 and 27, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette travelled to Lunenburg to explore the town’s seafaring heritage.

Payette’s tour included a sail aboard Bluenose II, which drew both fans and protesters.

For his part, Bluenose II captain Phil Watson said he was happy to have Payette aboard.

“It’s a great way for us to showcase the ship on a national level,” said Watson.

The visit also offered the ship’s deckhands an opportunity to meet Payette and Premier Stephen McNeil, who was also in attendance.

“They’ve worked really hard,” said Watson, noting how much it means for the crew to meet the dignitaries.

“They did two months of prep to get the ship ready for the summer season and now they have a chance to show it off.”

Lunenburg Mayor Rachel Bailey said she was also pleased by Payette’s visit.

“It’s very exciting for someone of her stature to come to Lunenburg,” she said.

Prior to boarding the ship, Bailey also had a chance to take Payette to the Fishermen’s Memorial along the waterfront. Bailey said that Payette seemed very interested in the history of the community.

“It’s wonderful that she’s learning about the different cultures across the country, and we’re very happy to share some of Lunenburg and what makes Lunenburg special with her,” said Bailey.

The event drew a crowd, with children and fans interacting with Payette, who is a former astronaut and a graduate of the University of Toronto.

Chris Zhu, who is a recent engineering graduate from the same school, had a moment to speak with Payette and said they had a connection.

“That was really cool to see her. At school, they have a sort of hall of fame and she has a box there. I’ve walked past it so many times so it’s really cool to meet her in person,” said Zhu.

But not all those in attendance were fans, as a small group of protesters from the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia positioned themselves near the ship.

One of the protesters, Byron Rogers, said the group was present to let the premier know that they were concerned about the recent spill of synthetic drilling mud off of Nova Scotia’s coast. Rogers highlighted that the group was concerned another spill may occur.

“The fisheries are at risk when oil is spilled,” he said.

Following the sail aboard Bluenose II, McNeil and Payette visited the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic for a reception.

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