119 Cumberland Street, P.O. Box 129
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada B0J 2C0
Phone: (902) 634-4410 Fax: (902) 634-4416
History & Architecture
Colonization of Lunenburg
Although Mi'kmaq and Acadians had long resided in the area, the first formal colonization of Lunenburg began in June 1753 when a group of German, Swiss and MonbĂ©liard French immigrants, called "Foreign Protestants" were settled here to strengthen the British presence in Nova Scotia. The community was planned as a model town, characterized by a formal grid of streets and blocks, each with 14 house lots, and allowances for public spaces and fortifications. Outside the town limits, larger lots were also laid out for the settlers in the area still known as Garden Lots.
The town grew slowly but steadily over the succeeding years. Gradually its people, originally farmers from inland areas of Europe, turned more and more to the sea for their livelihood, becoming legendary mariners and shipbuilders. By the mid 19th century, shipbuilding, fishing and foreign trade brought increasing prosperity to the community. Impressive Victorian homes were constructed, adding to the existing streetscapes of 18th and 19th century buildings. German customs and languages remained strong throughout the 19th century and even today, German traditions survive among Lunenburg's people.
The waterfront is the key to Lunenburg's history and prosperity. For more than two hundred years, shipbuilding and fishing have formed the backbone of the economy. Lunenburg remains one of the few communities in North America where traditional shipbuilding skills, such as those that built the famous Bluenose, symbol of Canada's sailing supremacy in the 1920s and 1930s can be found.
Similarly Lunenburg has an unrivaled place in the history of the Atlantic fisheries. In the 1850s, it sent the first fleet to the Grand Banks. Later innovations such as "double dory" trawl fishing and fresh-fish processing put Lunenburg at the forefront of the Canadian fishing industry and today it is the base for Canada's largest fish-processing plant and fleet of deep-sea trawlers. Exhibits at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic on the waterfront recount the history of the fisheries.
Lunenburg was chosen as the site for commemoration of the Banks fishery by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1966 because of its close ties to the fishery. In 1922, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board also declared Old Town a national historic district because of its grid plan, its strong historical associations, especially with the Atlantic fisheries, and the richness of its architectural heritage, spanning more than 200 years, yet blending harmoniously together.
Old Town Lunenburg
On December 6, 1995, Old Town Lunenburg was inscribed on the World Heritage List of the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and National Heritage. Inscription on this List confirms the exceptional universal value of a cultural or natural site which deserves protection for the benefit of all humanity.
Old Town Lunenburg, founded in 1753, is an outstanding example of British colonial settlement in North America, in terms both of its conception as a model Town plan and its remarkable level of conservation. The Town's cultural evolution based on shipbuilding and the fishing industry can be seen in the buildings and spaces that exist throughout the Town.