I previously mentioned that after returning Louisbourg to the French at the end of hostilities in 1746, the British military established a fort and town about 250 miles to the southwest at present-day Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In 1749, the British government sent a governor to the new stronghold at Halifax, Gov. Edward Cornwallis, along with a number of settlers (Gov. Cornwallis’ nephew, Gen. Charles Cornwallis, was the British General that surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown in 1783 to end the American Revolution).
These early settlers, however, consisted mostly of poor folk from England and they turned out to be ill-equipped for the rigors of life in the new colony. Consequently, Gov. Cornwallis petitioned the government back in England to raise a new crop of settlers from the European continent, in the hope that these new settlers would prove to be more industrious and hearty.
From 1749 to 1753, a number of protestant German, Swiss and French answered the call and were transported to Halifax by the British government, but when they landed, these “Foreign Protestants” complained that the soil was too rocky, so Gov. Cornwallis looked for better land upon which to settle these newcomers. He found it about 50 miles further south along the coast where he landed about 530 Foreign Protestants, primarily Germans, and had a town laid out in a rectangular grid that was common planning practice at the time. The military guard accompanying the settlers also set up military defenses for protection against the local Indian population.
In honor of King George II, whose regal lineage was from the Royal House of Brunswick-Luneberg, from which the Hanoverian kings of England were descended, the town was named “Lunenburg.” It was the northernmost German settlement in colonial North America.
Over the years, Lunenburg has retained its original character, due to its relative isolation. Today, it looks and feels much as it did in colonial times, something that has resulted in Lunenburg being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the only other UNESCO cultural World Heritage Site in North America being the old town of Quebec City that we visited last year.
Here’s a picture of Lunenburg from across the bay:
We camped for 3 nights in a government-run campground on a hill overlooking the town. Yesterday, we walked most of the town’s streets, admiring the magnificently maintained colonial-era buildings. Here’s the oldest residence in Lunenburg, built in 1760:
The British town plan may have made sense on paper, but it turned out to be problematic in practice because Lunenburg sits on the side of a hill that runs down to the harbor.
In places, it’s a strenuous walk going up and down the streets, although, of course, the streets that parallel the harbor are relatively level. The layout gives the town a terraced look and feel.
Here’s one of the main commercial streets:
We loved the vibrant colors that the residents paint their homes, inns and shops.
We eventually made our way down to the harbor where we walked out on one of the piers and took this photo of the Dory workshop.
Wooden ship building is still an active vocation in Lunenburg. Many old wooden ships are brought here for repairs and the boat yards still build new wooden sailboats. But the yards are best known for their most famous creation, the speedy schooner, Bluenose (pictured on the back-side of the Canadian dime), and her modern-day successor and replica, Bluenose II.
Bluenose II has been in the yard being refitted for the last two years and is scheduled to be relaunched this Saturday. We have mixed emotions about just missing the launch: it should be quite an event and exciting to see; however, they are projecting as many as 100,000 people to attend, in this town of 2,300 people.
Anyway, we were able to catch a glimpse of the famous schooner in the yard:
Back out on the docks, we admired all the magnificent wooden sailing ships.
Then, looking back at town…
We decided to head over to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, down the quay, the subject of my next post..