Old Town Lunenburg

Lunenburg is the kind of place where all you need to do to have fun is walk around it and look at stuff. You can have a grand old time without spending any money at all but if you’re the shopping type you could be busy for hours in the many small, independent stores selling specialty goods. We visited Lunenburg on the advice of a family friend who I must say has excellent taste and knew exactly the kind of thing we’d like to do.

Such as visiting whale skulls!
And giant red buoys!
And elephants!

Now that I’ve actually looked into the history of the place (erm…a year or so after my visit) it’s a bit hard to imagine such a pleasant little town as the site of warfare and conflict, but the presence of cannons should have been somewhat of a tipoff. Lunenburg is located in the traditional lands of the Mi’kmaq people who in no way ceded control of their territory to British invaders colonialists settlers. As can be expected in an area where one group of people declare sovereignty over an already-occupied territory, attempts to settle the area by the newcomers were marred by attacks and raids not only from the Mi’kmaq but from the Acadian and French settlers who had arrived prior to the British and probably had an axe to grind.

For over 10,000 years the Mi’kmaq people have lived in Mi’kma’ki, which is the land, coastline, and ocean that includes Lunenburg, all of Nova Scotia, and much of the Canadian and American east coast. In honour of the people who are working very hard to overcome the damages of colonialism I encourage you to become informed by heading to the Native Council of Nova Scotia‘s website. The violent and oppressive story of Lunenburg is nothing to turn away from and to me this knowledge doesn’t detract from appreciating the incredible place it has become today. The birthplace of the federal government’s reservation system is as much a valid part of its history as the original 18th and 19th century buildings, 70% of which have been preserved.

Here are some of them.

In 1965 UNESCO designated Lunenburg as a World Heritage Site citing is as “the best example of planned British colonial settlement in Canada.” In 1991 Canada followed suit and protected the architecture and civic design of the downtown core by designating it as a National Historic Site.

The waterfront and harbour offers views of the adorably-named drumlins, a landscape feature that Wikipedia defines as “an elongated hill in the shape of an inverted spoon or half-buried egg.”

Tee hee. Drumlins.

The waterfront is also home to the Bluenose! Well, the Bluenose II, which was just swarming with boat-y type tourists poking and prodding at it. Known to Canadian school kids as “Hey! It’s that boat on the dime!” the original Bluenose was an international racing schooner built locally and an uncontested champion for 17 years.

And here it is!

Actually that’s the Theresa E. Connor. Did you notice?

Here’s the real Bluenose.

Actually this is the replica lol.

These days, Lunenburg’s primary industry is tourism (surprise surprise) and the community of 2,000ish welcomes thousands of annual visitors. The residents are justifiably proud of their town and liberal with sharing information in their own dialect, Lunenburg English, but I think they draw the line when tourists block roadways to ogle the buildings. Look both ways people, safety first.

To be fair I did this exact same thing a number of times.