Lunenburg, Nova Scotia Canada

Discover Lunenburg, Nova Scotia: A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, is a charming port town located on the South Shore of Canada. Founded in 1753, it was one of the first British attempts to settle Protestants in Nova Scotia. Today, it is home to Canada's largest secondary fish-processing plant, a testament to its traditional economy based on the offshore fishery. In 1995, UNESCO designated Lunenburg a World Heritage Site, recognizing it as the best example of planned British colonial settlement in North America. The town's historic core is also a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Naming of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

In 1753, the town was named Lunenburg in honor of the Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg, who had become King George II of Great Britain. The Acadian inhabitants of the site had previously called it Mirliguèche, a French spelling of a Mi'kmaq name of uncertain meaning. An earlier Mi'kmaq name was āseedĭk, meaning clam-land.

The Rich History of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

The history of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, is a tapestry of cultures and events. The Mi'kmaq lived in the area from the present site of Lunenburg to Mahone Bay, with as many as 300 inhabitants during the warm summer months. French colonists, known as Acadians, settled in the area around the 1620s, co-existing peacefully with the Mi’kmaq and even intermarrying, creating networks of trade and kinship.

In 1749, Edward Cornwallis, the newly appointed Governor of Nova Scotia, visited the area and reported several Mi’kmaq and Acadian families living together in comfortable houses. However, the military conflicts between Britain and France in Europe in the 1700s spilled over to the New World. Under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, France ceded the part of Acadia today known as peninsular Nova Scotia to Britain.

To guard against Mi'kmaq, Acadian, and French colonial attacks, the British erected Fort George in 1749 at Citadel Hill Halifax and founded the town of Halifax. The British sought to settle the lands with loyal subjects, recruiting more than 1,400 Foreign Protestants, mostly artisans and farmers, from Europe in July 1753 to populate the site.

The Geography of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg is situated in a natural harbor on the western side of Mahone Bay, about 100 km southwest of Downtown Halifax. The area is built largely on Cambrian to Ordovician sedimentary deposits. The last glacial period transformed the landscape, creating various deposits that vary in thickness, including drumlins, which are a key feature of Lunenburg County. The coastline in the area is heavily indented, and the town is on an isthmus on the Fairhaven Peninsula, with harbors on both the front and back sides.

The Climate of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

The climate of Lunenburg is moderate, owing to its coastal location which helps to limit extremes in temperatures. This means it is slightly milder in winter and slightly cooler in summer than most areas at similar latitudes. Lunenburg enjoys warm, breezy summers with temperatures in the low to mid 20s °C (70s °F). It is seldom hot and humid. Winters are cold and frequently wet. Heavy winter snowfall can occur, but Lunenburg's snowpack is usually short-lived due to frequent winter rains and regular freeze-thaw cycles.

Exploring the Old Town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

The original planned town was built on a steep south-facing hillside. It was laid out with compact lots in a rectangular grid pattern of narrow streets without regard to the topography. It is now known as the Old Town, and is the part of town which is protected by UNESCO. It is also the site of the old harbor. About 40 buildings in this area are on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

The New Town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

In the 1800s, Lunenburg prospered through shipping, trade, fishing, farming, shipbuilding, and outgrew its original boundaries. The town was extended into the east and west of the Old Town into what is now known as the New Town. This area includes about a dozen buildings on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

The Demographics of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Lunenburg had a population of 2,396 living in 1,089 of its 1,242 total private dwellings, a change of 5.9% from its 2016 population of 2,263. With a land area of 4.04 km2 (1.56 sq mi), it had a population density of 593.1/km2 (1,536.0/sq mi) in 2021. In 2016, the majority of the population is English-speaking Canadian Protestants. At 58, the median age is higher than the provincial median of 46. Household incomes are similar to provincial averages.