Saturday, August 13, 2022

6/3/22: LOVELY Lunenburg - Trash and All!


As Ellen and I went for a quick walk on our last morning, it was amusing seeing the different sea-themed images attached to phone poles around Lunenburg!

In all of the hundreds upon hundreds of posts I've written since Steven and I began traveling internationally together in 2013, I don't think a single one has mentioned garbage or recycling. That's changing now because I learned from Ellen that Lunenburg has one of the most advanced policies that I'd ever heard about when it comes to what can be put in the garbage versus what must be recycled. I initially wrote 'strictest' but Ellen was right to put a positive spin on it.

She explained that all garbage must be placed in see-through plastic bags and all recycled items must be put in blue see-through plastic bags so the trash collectors can tell at a glance that items have been correctly placed in each. If someone 'forgets' and places a recycled item in their trash, the bag is 'rejected' and will not be picked up. Stickers labeled 'rejected' used to be affixed to bags but they were done away with, I guess, because there was too much of a hue and cry! 

After the system was developed at least 20 years ago, Ellen told me people working in the industry came from across Canada, the US, and Europe to learn how Lunenburg residents were dealing with the mounting trash problem. In their house, Ellen and Peter have five separate compartments for their waste: compost, paper and cardboard, recycle, plastic, and garbage. The latter is only what doesn't fit into the other categories. Here I thought Steven and I were doing a good job back in Denver with the recycling we do!

Ellen mentioned that some people were initially quite concerned with their loss of privacy knowing that anyone could see what correspondence they might have received, what they consumed, etc, but that lessened with the knowledge that everyone was in the same boat and it was all being done for the common good. 

No blah house colors were to be seen in Lunenburg!

More dreamy harbor landscapes shots:

After our walk, Peter and Ellen took us for another scenic drive; this one was east of Lunenburg beginning with marshlands en route to Plesant Bay.

In the distance was the Bluenose II - the original, famous Bluenose, featured on the Nova Scotia license plate and on the back of the Canadian dime, was designed to compete in a racing series that pitted working ships from the US and Canada against each other. To the delight of all Canadians, the Bluenose, which was launched from Lunenburg in 1921, won every race against the Yanks for 18 years straight while also working as a fishing boat! By 1942, modern steel-hulled trawlers had taken the place of the sail-powered fishing industry. When Bluenose II was re-created from the original plans in 1963, some of the original craftsmen participated in its construction!

The small community of Blue Rocks was a short drive from Lunenburg. Its name came from the blue slate rocks at the edge of the ocean.

Peter explained that fishermen stored supplies in what's informally known as the village's fishing shack at high tide. Ellen told me the correct name was actually the fish store, i.e where fish are stored. I read this is the most photographed image in the county. I could see why as I took about a dozen shots from different angles ... 

and from farther afield!

As peaceful and beautiful as these areas appeared, Peter and Ellen were quick to point out that these were all active fishing areas and not just pretty-as-a-picture and tailor-made for tourists. The life of a fisherman and his family cannot be an easy one, subject as they are to the vagaries of weather, waxing and waning demand, and changing market prices based on conditions outside the locals' control.

The houses on this spit of land were only accessibly by water.

How cute was this?!

Across the bay in the village of Feltzen South the family of singer-songwriter Harry Chapin known for Cat's in the Cradle and Taxi among other mega hits carries on the family musical legacy in Ovens Natural Park. We didn't have time to go there but I read about veins of gold being found in the spectacular sea caves in the 1860s. More than 15,500 grams of the precious metal were mined which sparked a gold rush.

Also on the South Shore is the iconic Peggy's Cove, undoubtedly one of the most famous places in all of Canada. As a result, it is mobbed by tourists and tour buses during the summer months especially. Blue Rocks is described as "Lunenburg's answer to Peggy Cove" and it was as idyllic as we remembered Peggy's Cove being decades ago but without any crowds.

Another effect of climate warming was the arrival of Canada geese on this small pond.

From Blue Rocks, we headed further east toward tiny Stonehurst.

I hope you all enjoy the second photo below of Stonehurst South as Peter told me the only way to get it was to make my way through the brush!

I cannot imagine living in one of these homes where there was no road access at all - all deliveries needed to be hauled across the footbridge!

Chichi homes were supplanting some of the simpler homes and fishing cabins that had stood for generations - such is 'progress.'

A better glimpse of the Bluenose II in the distance:

The 'money shot' of lovely Lunenburg from the other side of the harbor:

Ellen, or was it Peter (?!), explained that Lunenburg had the last remaining grid system of streets in all of North America and that helped to qualify the town for status as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada. 

While Steven and I'd been bopping around Nova Scotia before meeting up again with our friends Lezlie, Ellen and Peter, we'd spotted several Guy's Frenchies second-hand shops. However, it wasn't until we talked with our friends that we learned of the shop's huge cachet among the monied set. So, when Ellen and Peter said they 'needed' to stop at the Frenchy's in nearby Bridgeport, I was quite excited. It turns out that all shirts are the same low price, all jackets similarly the same, etc regardless of brand or when the item was donated to Frenchy's. 

That was an altogether different model from any other second-hand shop I know and shop at in suburban Denver with friends. Steven and I each picked up a few long-sleeved shirts and I also found a lightweight jacket, all for a song, as we were each concerned we hadn't brought enough cold-weather gear for our trip over to The Rock aka the island of Newfoundland. Even the venerable NY Times wrote an article about hunting for designer duds at Frenchy's or Chez Francois as some like to call the Maritime discount chain!

Since 1895, the stately Lunenburg Academy was the town's public school before a new school was built and the structure became a National Historic Site and registered heritage property. It was now home to a library, cultural center, and genealogical society. 

It was also home to the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance or LAMP which was near and dear to Ellen's heart. Thanks to Ellen's involvement with LAMP, she gave us a brief tour of the impressive facility that brings musicians of international repute to tiny Luxembourg to share their passion for music with music students.

Ellen joked that LAMP performers and students must familiarize themselves with Lunenburg's trash and recycling program and that was why this 'cheat sheet' had been provided!

The peaceful Hillcrest Cemetery looked especially serene nestled at the top of the town with Lunenburg Academy visible in the background.

Later that afternoon, Steven and I embarked on our own walking tour of Lunenburg whose population was under 2,500 but, wow, did the town pack a wallop for being so small! Protestant Swiss, German, and French immigrants were lured to Lunenburg in 1753 by the British to help stabilize their new colonial outpost.

Despite there being a steep hill, the town was laid out as a rectangular grid like standard British colonial settlements. Construction began with the arrival of the first settlers, with each given a town lot measuring 40 by 60 feet and a garden lot located immediately east of town. Settlers mostly selected the Cape Cod-style model as it had been used extensively in New England as well as in the new settlement in Halifax.

As Lunenburg was graced with an excellent harbor protected from the Atlantic by two long curving peninsulas, it became one of the province's top fishing ports and shipbuilding centers during the 19th century. Though the town's fishing industry and shipbuilding reputation are "mere shadows of their former selves," the port is still famous for being a tall ship mecca, and large multi-masted sailing ships from around the world put in for repairs and provisions. Canada's largest secondary fish-processing plant, High Liner Foods, is also in Lunenburg.

Luneburg was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site not only as an outstanding example of British colonial settlement in North America but also its remarkable level of conservation. Old Town Lunenburg "where all the streets were square and the corners square" is considered the best surviving example of the British colonial policy of creating new settlements by imposing a pre-designed 'model town' on a wilderness tract regardless of the local topography. 

I read that some 21 British settlements in North America, from Ontario's Niagara-on-the-Lake to Georgia's Savannah, have survived but none compare to Lunenurg's pristine condition. Savannah, I gotta say, however, Savannah is one of our favorite cities on the continent because of its gorgeous with a capital 'G' collection of squares. What makes Lunenburg so special is the approximately 400 buildings that comprise Old Town with a compatibility of scale, architectural styles, and building materials from 250 years ago.

An example of Lunenburg's straight and narrow streets per the British colonial plan:

The Bandstand was a replica of the 1893 original one.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church enjoyed the longest history of any Presbyterian congregation in Canada. It was built in 1828 and then lengthened and converted to a Gothic style in 1879.

Almost catty corner was the stunning St. John's Anglican Church which was the second-oldest church in the country and 250 years old until it burned down in 2001. Luckily for the church community, it was painstakingly rebuilt.

We felt we lucked out when we found the church organist was practicing as it was as if we were attending our own private concert in the sublime interior which had been fashioned by shipwright carpenters!

The Parish Hall across the street was formerly the Lunenburg Courthouse and was built in 1775. We poked around the building until we found what was described in a brochure as a 'mural' but was actually this royal coat of arms of King George III that was intended to lend an air of authority to the presiding magistrate. 

The Oxner House was built for a local merchant Joshua Kalback.

I wouldn't want to be playing ball and run down all the way to the harbor if it got away from me!

One of the town's oldest homes was built by Heinrich Koch who was just 19 when he arrived with the initial wave of settlers in 1753. He soon amassed a small fortune when he set up the first sawmill with his father. As the home has remained intact for more than 200 years, it was often in use for movie and TV shoots as was the case when we were there! 

The Charles Morash House was a typical late Victorian home from 1860. Don't you think its bright lemon yellow just draws the eye up to the top of the tall structure?

When we came to Zion Evangelical Church, I can't say I was surprised to learn that Lunenburg was home to the oldest Lutheran congregation in Canada as so many Lutherans, mostly Germans from the upper Rhine, were among the immigrants of 1753. Until they constructed their own church, they were allowed to use St. John's Anglican Church for prayer and worship but not sermons. 

The first church was built in 1770 but it was replaced by a new Gothic structure. Services were conducted in German until 1890. The current building was completed just three years after the other was demolished in 1888. It still has the highest steeple in town and can be seen from out to sea. The original church's bell, key, and money chest provide a strong link to the congregation's past.

Opposite the church was Lunenburg Inn which was saved from certain demolition and carefully restored by its current owner. Its classical style dates to around 1810.

We had difficulty walking to some of the buildings as filming was underway and we had to explain we were just tourists on a self-guided walking tour.

The Selig House was built circa 1825.

Dating from the 1760s, the home at 57 York was one of the oldest homes. The oldest part of the house was a half-Cape with two windows on one side of the door. With a later addition on the other side of the door, the home became a three-quarter-Cape.

This home built in 1898 was one of the largest houses and the only pastel one I recalled seeing.

The plaque indicated this 1877 house was built for John Anderson, a shipbuilder in town. The Andersons were one of the few American Loyalist families who came to Lunenburg after the American Revolution.  

George Anderson built this home in 1826. I was intrigued by its decorative fretwork atop the gable. 

As we headed downhill to the harbor area, there was still the same grid layout even with the very steep streets.

Though Lunenburg's harbor area was chock-a-block full of charming shops and galleries, great eateries and bars, we had no time to savor any of them. I guess a return trip is in order one day!

This Romkey House looked like a fairly unassuming one-story home on Pelham St. but was a lovely three-story home on the harbor side. Jacob Ushe, a mariner, probably built it from 1779-98 though possibly earlier. It was once the town's Customs Office. 

This had to be the most colorful block in Lunenburg, and that says a lot as so many of the homes were very brightly painted! Ellen said a local contest dubbed the block UNESCO Fresco!

Just a few blocks from Ellen and Peter's home was Altestes Haus which was known as the oldest house in Lunenburg as it was constructed circa 1760.

Ellen and Peter's home deservedly received recognition as a heritage home as it has been lovingly restored to reflect the colors and style of when it was built. Ellen was disappointed that we hadn't come later in the summer so we could enjoy the fruits of her labors as she is way more than an avid gardener!

Although it had been a longish day, Steven and I perked up when Ellen and Peter insisted we go to a brewery across the harbor for some more 'money' shots of lovely Lunenburg.

The breakwater in the bay:

One of the things that absolutely confounded Steven and me from almost the moment we began driving around Nova Scotia was that all gas stations had exactly the same price for gas. That was totally new to us as we were used to market variations, supply and demand as factors setting the price. I asked Peter about it and he confirmed the prices were uniform but there was a base price for Halifax and environs and then a slightly higher uniform price in rural areas to cover transportation costs.

Cheers to you, Ellen and Peter, two tour guides extraordinaire, until we can host you both chez nous and show you our neck of the woods!

Next post: Heading over to Cape Breton for the first time in 30 odd years.

Posted on August 13th, 2022, from Chicago where we've come to spend a few precious days with our daughter and her family. It seems just like yesterday and not three months ago when we began our long road trip by coming out to Chicago! 


  1. Oh how I loved this tour through Lunenburg, NS.... the vibrant paint colours of the houses, the stunning water side vistas, the description of the earth-friendly transparent trash collection system, the salute to Harry Chapin, but what really turned my crank was the mention of the Maritime- based Guy's Frenchies thrift shop with the "hard-to-beat" pricing system !! xo xo Lina xo xo

  2. With your petite size, Lina, you'd have a blast at Chez Francois! Lunenburg was such a feast for so many senses, I hope we can return some day.