Get the inside scoop on how visitors to the unique port of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia — a new UNESCO World Heritage Site — can get the most out of this history-laden little town.
By George Burden and Amanda Sutherland
A dark form shambles down the twilit streets of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It pauses in front of boat builders Knickle and Adams, momentarily, the face writhing and shifting as its skin falls to the ground. It then hastens off into the gloom.
Fans of the horror television series “Haven”, based on a work by Stephen King, will recognize this character as “the chameleon”, which kills and take the forms of his victims. They will also recognize the streets and buildings of Lunenburg as the real setting of “Haven”, though the series is ostensibly set in the town of Haven, Maine.
Television and movie producers have long taken advantage of Nova Scotia’s quaint Victorian seaports, so little changed since the 1800s, as a background for various cinematic works. Lunenburg provides the best example of this bygone era, though it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that you’ll witness any supernatural manifestations during your stat.
Lunenburg is of the last bastions of traditional wooden boat-building. Docked along the Lunenburg waterfront you’ll see sailing vessels such as the Bluenose II, an exact replica of the unbeatable Lunenburg fishing schooner built in 1921, that successfully defended its hold on the The International Fishermen’s Trophy for 17 years while still working as a full-time fishing vessel. Further up the dock, the three-masted barquentine Caledonia, aboard which I cruised several years ago, remains moored. The tall ship Picton Castle also calls Lunenburg its home, and tall ship HMS Bounty was built in Lunenburg in 1980 and still sails the world after its film premier in the 1984 version of Mutiny on the Bounty starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins.
Lunenburg was founded in 1753 when the so-called Foreign Protestants, a melange of Germans, Swiss and French from Monbelliard were settled in the town. Names of German origin are still very much in evidence on buildings and in the local telephone directory though many have been anglicized to such monikers as Whynot and Outhouse.
The town of Lunenburg remains unique for the number of old buildings including homes and churches that have survived from the late 1700s and 1800s. Indeed, at times you might forget you’re still ensconced in the 21 st Century, especially if you take a tour of the town in one of the horse-drawn carriages with their knowledgeable drivers/guides.
There are dozens of historic B&Bs to lodge visitors in the area. We chose the Alicion Bed & Breakfast with its roomy guest rooms, manicured grounds (and two-person jacuzzis in two of its suites for the romantically inclined). Innkeepers Lorne and Janet make the visit an exquisite one with gourmet breakfasts and plenty of useful advise on what to see and do.
Harbour cruises, and whale- and seal-watching tours can be booked at the waterfront near the Fisheries Museum. Pleasant Paddling Sea Kayaking can take you out for a pleasant paddle around the nearby islands of scenic Blue Rock, just past Lunenburg on the peninsula, with stunning vistas and photo ops.
Don’t miss the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic for an unforgettable look at how many of our forefathers carved out a living from the sea. Authentic fishing vessels of various eras are docked and on display along the museum’s wharf. This is well worth a visit.
Photos © Amanda Sutherland. All Rights Reserved.