Lunenburg is one of those places that every visitor to Nova Scotia must-see. It’s a short drive from Halifax (1-hour) and visiting will open your eyes to beautiful scenic shores that are rich in colonial maritime history.
Its distinctive waterfront with colourful buildings has appeared on the Canadian $100 bill and the Bluenose (which makes berth in Lunenburg) appears on the Canadian dime.
Nearly 100-years before the Treaty of Paris and the subsequent expulsion of the Acadians, an Acadian settlement graced these shores: Mirligueche. The Acadians co-existed with the Mi’kmaq who used the area to harvest clams.
This was a turbulent time in Canadian history and Lunenberg was one of the locations that the British targeted through raids so they could establish a fort (1753) during Queen Anne’s War.
After this, a permanent settlement was established by Swiss and German-speaking Protestants. It was these immigrants that built the town that you see today.
Preserved in Time
Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site because, according to the Canadian Register of Historic Places, it is the “best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America and has retained its original layout and overall appearance, based on a rectangular grid pattern drawn up in the home country.” (CRHP site).
For over 265-years, locals have managed to keep the city’s colonial identity by preserving the original 1700s wooden houses and architecture. This is impressive given that the buildings are mostly privately owned. The only thing that is missing is the fortifications that once protected the town.
Eating in Lunenburg
We spent an entire day in Lunenburg where it’s easy to find good food. The general theme of restaurants is Canadian comfort food with a seaside flair; and, the names of restaurants reflect this: the Savvy Sailor, the Rum Runner, the Salt Shaker, Just a Little Dinghy, the Knot Pub, Grand Banker Bar, the Old Fish Factory, Rime Restaurant, and the Half Shell Oysters. An honourable mention goes to the Lincoln Street, which is ranked the top restaurant in town.
All serve high-quality food with organic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, pescatarians, and allergy-friendly options available.
Of all these fantastic restaurants, I think we ended up at the lowest-ranked… mostly because we planned poorly and didn’t book ahead. Regardless, the food was still really good.