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The Bluenose II will undergo a two-year, $15-million restoration in Lunenburg, N.S. ((CBC))

Nova Scotia's sailing ambassador, the Bluenose II, will undergo a two-year, $15-million restoration.

The provincial government announced Thursday that it has signed a contract for the work with the Lunenburg Shipyard Alliance, a group that includes Covey Island Boatworks, Lunenburg Industrial Foundry and Engineering, and Snyder's Shipyard Ltd.

The total cost of the project will be shared between the federal and provincial governments, though the exact split has not been worked out, Nova Scotia's tourism minister, Percy Paris, said Thursday. The federal contribution will come from the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.

Paris said despite the price tag, he thinks restoration is a better option than building a new ship.

"I think the Bluenose II has a legacy in itself, and I think it's very important to Nova Scotians that we maintain that legacy," he said.

The vessel is a replica of the famous fishing schooner depicted on the Canadian dime. The original Bluenose was launched in Lunenburg in March 1921 and won sailing races throughout the 1920s and 1930s. It was sold and eventually wrecked.

Nova Scotia owns the Bluenose II, which is used to promote tourism and trade in the province.

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The vessel is a replica, launched in the 1960s, of the famous fishing schooner depicted on the Canadian dime. ((CBC))

The replica was built from plans by designer William James Roue and launched in 1963. The vessel is based in Lunenburg, a UNESCO world heritage site about 100 kilometres southwest of Halifax, and is used for tours and special events.

As part of the restoration contract, shipbuilding infrastructure worth $1.5 million will be added to the Lunenburg waterfront. Paris said that even though the schooner will not be in the water for two years, the restoration work itself, which will follow traditional Nova Scotia shipbuilding techniques, could become a tourist draw for the community.

The schooner will move to the work site in Lunenburg this week, and construction will begin immediately.