(continuer en français) – Last updated: February 1, 2022

Lunenburg is located about 62 miles,100 kilometres, south of Halifax on the coast of Nova Scotia. The town stands on a strip of land leading to a peninsula. On either side it is surrounded by water, two harbours sealing its maritime vocation.

The first European pioneers established the village of Merliguesche on this site as early as the beginning of the 17th century. Mainly French, they created strong links with the existing Micmac populations, going so far as to create mixed families. In addition to hunting and fishing, they also started farming, mixing the traditions of the two continents. This small, well-integrated population was akin to the Acadians, but without a formal structure.

Everything changed with the arrival of the English 150 years later. The authorities first sent troops to raze the village to the ground in 1749. By way of advertising, Protestants from several European countries were recruited and settled in Lunenburg in 1753, becoming the second colony after Halifax.

The town layout has remained unchanged since the mid-18th century and its creation under the leadership of the British authorities. The original settlers were Protestants, mainly from Germany, France and Switzerland, who drew lots among 670 lots. The houses they then built were long passed down from one generation to the next without major changes.

It is this persistence in urban planning that led UNESCO to register Old Lunenburg on its World Heritage List in 1995. The town is a fine example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America. It retains intact its original structure according to a grid plan, as well as its overall appearance. The population has managed to preserve the identity of the town over the centuries, maintaining the wooden architecture of its houses, many of which date back to the 18th century.

Over time, the shapes of the buildings become more sophisticated and finer, also bringing more diversity.

Lunenburg Academy is the most spectacular building, it is a school built in wood at the beginning of the 19th century and still in operation.

The town is built on the side of a fairly steep slope going down to the shore. The houses are built in successive rows along the streets.

Over the years, Lunenburg’s wealth came from an economy based on agriculture, fishing, shipbuilding and ocean trade, particularly with the West Indies. On the waterfront is the Fisheries Museum dedicated to fishing on Canada’s Atlantic coast. It is housed in bright red buildings with boats alongside, reminiscent of the port facilities of the ship owners of yesteryear.

Shipbuilding was an important activity in the past, only a few craft workshops remain, giving character to the waterfront.

The memory of the great ships of yesteryear remains through numerous representations, such as those of traditional signs, evoking in particular the most famous of the schooners produced in Lunenburg, the Bluenose.

The port’s commercial activities now seem rather dormant, but the colourful facades continue to embellish the waterfront.

To be informed of upcoming articles, register here (it’s free).



Articles about Nova Scotia:

Introduction to Nova Scotia

For a long time, France and Britain fought over this land that formed the heart of French-speaking Acadia. Several waves of immigrants progressively replaced the French who had established from 1604. Scots, Germans, American settlers and finally Loyalists fleeing the independent United States. In 1755, the Acadians were expelled in the Great Upheaval, which still fuels passions.

Halifax : Top 10

Nova Scotia’s capital was created in 1749 by the Brittish with the intention of rivaling the French port of Louisbourg further north. After its military origins, Halifax became a major commercial city.


Lunenburg is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as an example of a colonial settlement in North America. Its people have made a name for themselves in shipbuilding, notably with the racing schooner Bluenose.


En 1713, la France installe une nouvelle place forte à l’entrée du golfe du Saint Laurent, sur ce qui était alors l’Ile Royale, devenue depuis l’île du Cap Breton de la province de Nouvelle-Ecosse.

To be informed of upcoming articles, register here (it’s free!).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s