Nova Scotia

Here's the other iconic N.S. boat to be immortalized on a coin

A new commemorative loonie will feature a Cape Islander boat among other Canadian icons and landmarks. The ubiquitous boat is believed to have originated in Clark's Harbour, N.S., around 1905.

The Cape Islander boat will be featured on a commemorative loonie in the spring

Wesley Klassen's design, voted for by Canadians, is inspired by the 'iconic engineering achievements which dominate our landscape' that are connected by the railroad. (Royal Canadian Mint/Handout)

A type of boat designed in Nova Scotia that's become a ubiquitous sight at East Coast fishing ports over the past century will soon be found in the pockets of Canadians.

The new 2017 commemorative loonie, part of a design contest by the Royal Canadian Mint, will feature a Cape Islander boat among other Canadian icons and landmarks.

Featuring unmistakable high bows and an open workspace, the boat is believed to have originated in Clark's Harbour around 1905. A write-up on the boat can be found on the town's website as part of its local history section.

"Most people now are pretty familiar with the Cape Islander boat," said Leigh Stoddart, mayor of Clark's Harbour, a small community on Cape Sable Island off Nova Scotia's southwest coast.

'Pretty proud'

Stoddart said the coin's designer, Wesley Klassen of St. Catharines, Ont., did a good job of capturing the boat's likeness.

"It's pretty accurate," said Stoddart. "I felt pretty good, pretty proud, because it's from my hometown."

The coin, which is meant to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary, also features another Nova Scotia icon: the lighthouse at Peggys Cove.

The design also includes Vancouver's Lions Gate Bridge, a prairie grain elevator, the CN Tower, and the Chateau Frontenac in Old Quebec. 

"They're all icons of Canada," said Stoddart. "People immediately recognize Peggys Cove. So to have our boat in with that group of designs, it's quite something for us."

Inspired by cross-Canada trip

Klassen, 50, said his creation was inspired by childhood memories of a road trip across the country with his family.

"Seeing the fishing boats, camping, having our lobsters cooked on the roadside lobster stands with the big black open kettles — that's where I drew upon those ideas," he said. 

The Cape Islander boat features high bows and a large workspace. It's believed to have originated around 1905 in Clark's Harbour, N.S. (

Stoddart said he thinks having Clark's Harbour's famous export on the currency will bring greater exposure for the town of about 800.

"Where it originated right here in Clark's Harbour, yes, I think it will help us," he said. 

Nova Scotia's most famous vessel — the Bluenose — has been featured on the Canadian dime since 1937. Every year tourists flock to see a replica of the schooner in its home port of Lunenburg.

A lasting tradition

Cape Islander boats continue to be favourites for fishermen, although they are now made of fibreglass, not wood. 

"A lot of them are built here in Clark's Harbour," said Stoddart. "Right now we're on a boom. There's a backlog of about three years to get one built, actually."

Stoddart said the town will likely order a few of the commemorative loonies to give as gifts. 

The coin is set to enter circulation in the spring.


Shaina Luck


Shaina Luck is a reporter with CBC Nova Scotia. She has worked with national network programs, the CBC's Atlantic Investigative Unit, and the University of King's College school of journalism. Email: