A Food & Travel Blog

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia – a UNESCO Heritage Site

12/07/2013 | By

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

I don’t know how odd this is, but I have this quirky thing I do when I’m travelling – I look at each new place I visit and try to decide if I would live there.  Sometimes I just think about the town or city as a whole and decide on the basis of access to good food, what the people seem like and how hot it will get in the summer (I hate the heat) but occasionally I’ll look at individual neighbourhoods to see where I’d like to live.  I’ve got to be honest and say there are a lot of spots in Canada that I’d happily reside in, but while I was visiting Lunenburg I actually picked out a rather nice house, too.  I looked it up on the real estate site on the internet and sent the link to The Bloke, who was quite pleased with the price, but firm in his resolve to live where he actually works. Sigh.

Garden, Lunenburg

You can safely assume I am smitten with this charming, quaint and uniquely historic little fishing village. Lunenburg is classed by UNESCO as the best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America. It is extraordinarily well preserved and the locals have managed to conserve it’s identity as a model British colonial settlement, without compromising it’s ability to function as a community in the modern world.  The layout of the town is almost entirely that of the original 18th century design and over 95% of the buildings  are timber, with two thirds of them dating from the 19th century.  And it is utterly and irresistibly appealing.

Lunenburg stores

Buildings, Lunenburg

Old school, Lunenburg

St. John's Lunenburg

Interior St. John's Lunenburg

Ceiling, St. John's Lunenburg

The old school building is simply breathtaking.  It looks like something from a Gothic horror film set which would have an axe-carrying Jack Nicholson striding through the rooms.  All signs of the devastating fire that tore through St John’s Anglican Church in 2001, the second oldest protestant church building in Canada, are gone now and the historic restoration has reinstated what is considered by many experts to be a classic example of “Carpenter Gothic”.  I was particularly taken with all of the colours in this town.  Many of the houses are brightly painted and most sport delightful and completely individual trims around the windows and porches – perfect fodder for a snapping rubber-neck (i.e. me).

Lunenburg trims 1

Lunenburg trims 2

The town has a rich fishing history, the cost of which is chillingly brought home by the sombre but touching memorial which lists the names of those lost at sea and it’s shipyards and foundry played important roles in the repair of damaged vessels in WW1 and WW2.  It continued as a major fishing centre after WW2, and it is home to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, but tourism is what really brings home the bacon to Lunenburg these days.

As is only fitting, Lunenburg has plenty of great places for a seafood meal and we were treated to a fine example of that at The Salt Shaker Deli – noted for it’s award-winning smoked seafood chowder. There are not many frills in this modest little diner, but they seem to save all the effort for the food – which was fabulous.  I couldn’t resist the chowder and was glad I didn’t.  It was rich and creamy, bulging with fresh mussels, scallops and shrimp and imbued with a deep smoky flavour.  I also managed to find room for their lobster roll – generously full of delicious fresh lobster, tarragon mayo and greens. A truly indulgent lunch, but then I am a greedy girl.

The Salt Shaker Deli, Lunenburg

Lobster Roll, Lunenburg

Lunenburg is a relatively small place and easily investigated by foot on a fine day.  We got to know quite a lot about it thanks to the encyclopaedic knowledge of Lunenburg Town Walking Tours owner/operator, and local girl,  Shelah Allen who led us around this delightful corner of Nova Scotia. Again, this is a spot I knew nothing of and am so very glad that has now been rectified.  I can’t wait to get back there again one day.

Lambs’ Ears and Honey was a guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and Nova Scotia Tourism.


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  1. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    The houses are very charming! And I can imagine that he wouldn’t have been very pleased with the commute to work! 🙂

  2. Hotly Spiced

    What a pretty town and it’s fantastic that it hasn’t been bastardised like so much of Sydney was in the 60’s and 70’s with historic buildings being torn down to make way for ugly cheap housing. The buildings are certainly painted in every colour of the rainbow which is not the Aussie way but I guess on all those grey days they get up there the brightly painted buildings would be very cheery xx

  3. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

    It’s lovely but I grew up not too far from there in Maine and frankly, snow higher than my bum is over for me. I couldn’t live in that sort of cold again. Summers are glorious though.

  4. Kate

    Having lived overseas for 2 different 12 month periods I would head of to live elsewhere like a shot and Novia Scotia looks divine. It is children and dogs and my job that keep me here but maybe one day …

  5. Valerie Johnson

    I have been there a few times and my favorie place to stay is ” The Topmast Motel” it is on a hill overlooking the harbor and the town, and the management (Mary)of the motel is the best ever! but my husband and I will never forget the times we stayed there!

  6. Liz

    I have good friends who live in Halifax and I have been lucky enough to visit them a few times and explore Lunenberg and lots of Nova Scotian fishing villages. Its absolutely beautiful, especially in summer, but in winter the temperatures routinely fall below 20 degrees. It gets so cold the car seats have electric heating. I spent one April there making snow angels in the park because the falls were so fresh and deep, even though it was meant to be spring!

  7. My kitchen stories

    I can see how you were charmed by this delightful place. I would have gone mad with my camera. Loved the story

  8. Eha

    What a charming journey to a place of which I had not heard. Worth its UNESCO heritage listing methinks. Charlie is totally correct as to ‘crimes committed against history’ here in Sydney: heard on a talk show just a few days back this is supposedly being reversed in a hurry. Do love the colours and window/door treatments and would not mind an iota having a big bowl of that chowder at the moment!

  9. Jennifer @ Delicieux

    What a gorgeous place, and those houses are so cute. And you’re not alone, I always think about where I’m visiting and whether I’d live there.

  10. Lizzy (Good Things)

    Wonderful post, Amanda… and beeeeeautiful photographs. I can see why you were so smitten with this place. Like Maureen, I am getting over cold weather, so anywhere that has snow wouldn’t tick the boxes for me (to use a corny real estate term). Envious of your adventures my friend, thank you for sharing them!

  11. celia

    What a gorgeous village, Amanda! It looks like it would be a fab place to live, although I can understand your hubby’s preference to live where he works. And I’m a bit with Lizzy and Maureen – I don’t like being cold either! 🙂

  12. InTolerant Chef

    Oh this is a pretty little town indeed! That lunch sounds gorgeous, I love lobster 🙂

  13. Catherine Bedson

    What a charming town and the lunch is making my mouth water. I’d have devoured both dishes as well