Lunenburg – History & Nature by the Sea

Founded in 1753 as the second community in the British colony of Nova Scotia, Lunenburg was settled by immigrants from Germany, Switzerland and France. The influence of the early Germanic inhabitants is still felt today as the town draws many tourists from Europe.

The current inhabitants of Lunenburg are very proud of the fine ensemble of buildings dating from the late 1700s and the 19th century. Everywhere you look there are brightly coloured, often massive wooden homes, churches, commercial buildings and warehouses. They are still in use, some having been transformed to luxurious inns, bed and breakfasts and restaurants. The main street is lined with many old buildings housing cafes and shops selling crafts, fine art, fashion, and nautical antiques and souvenirs. Each of the designated historic buildings is marked with a plaque so walks along Lunenburg’s streets illustrate the history of the town where commerce was. and still is, based on fishing, shipbuilding (now yacht building) and marine outfitting.

Lunenburg harbour is always a bustle of activity. On any summer day one might see the schooner Bluenose II that was built in the harbour side yards as was its predecessor. Launched in 1921, the first Bluenose was built as a racing and fishing vessel. For many years she was the fastest schooner in the world. Celebrated on the Canadian dime, the original Bluenose is part of the proud heritage of Lunenburg. The tradition continues today at the Lunenburg Foundry & Engineering Limited at its Lunenburg Shipyard where all kinds of boats are constructed using the latest designs and a variety of marine equipment is manufactured.

On the waterfront the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic offers year round immersion in the history and current practices of the fishing industry. A tidal touch tank lets kids of any age experience close contact with several species of sea creatures. Also a great treat for everyone is the chance to inspect both the above and below decks of a Lunenburg built saltbank schooner dating from 1938. Berthed next to it on the wharf outside the museum is the Cape Sable, a steel-hulled trawler built in Holland in 1962. This vessel fished off Nova Scotia for twenty years. At one end of the wharf is the wheelhouse and captain’s cabin from the trawler Cape North. This is a particular favourite with children who enjoy taking on the role of a deep sea fishing captain.

No visit to Lunenburg is complete without going out on the ocean. Lunenburg Whale Watching Tours depart from the waterfront four times a day and last about 3 hours. On the tour you will get good views of the town of Lunenburg, the surrounding harbour and the harbours islands as well as see abundant seabirds including brilliant puffins, swooping terns, shearwaters and petrels. The stars of the tour are the whales. You might see a fin whale, a pilot whale, a minke whale or the huge humpback whale or even all of these species. Leatherback turtles, seals and porpoises are also likely to be spotted.

There is really too much to do in a single day in Lunenburg so you might decide to stay the night. It is quite something to find yourself in a room in one of the Victorian mansions that have been transformed into an inn or a bed and breakfast maintaining original architectural and decorative features.

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