History of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
The first mention of a settlement in what would later become the town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia was in the early 1600s. At that time, it was an Acadian/Mi’kmaq village named Mirligueche. After recurring hostilities between the French and English, Nova Scotia’s governor, Edward Cornwallis, ordered the village of wooden houses destroyed. In its place, a British fortress was erected to guard the harbour. However, the British recognized the area’s value as a settlement:
- well-protected harbour
- easy access to forests
- fertile farmland
- well-populated fishing grounds
Foreign Protestants were encouraged to settle the area in a town that would be named Lunenburg, in honour of King George II, Duke of Brunschweig-Lunenburg.
Lunenburg would quickly become known as a major shipbuilding centre, with local mills supplying the wood needed to build some of the most impressive sailing ships ever designed. Among these was the famous Bluenose, a fishing and racing schooner built in 1921 that would remain undefeated in international racing for 17 years. The Bluenose lives on on the Canadian dime, while her replica, the Bluenose II has gone on to act as Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador around the world and continues to call Lunenburg home.
As the use of wooden vessels fell in favour to steel steamships, the town evolved to become a modern ship repair and outfitting port, especially during the First and Second World Wars and to the Province’s trawler fleet. Today, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is very much a town where the past meets the present. Seventy percent of the original buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries continue to greet visitors with their colourful facades. As a result, the town has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – a fitting tribute to the lasting history nestled alongside this tranquil harbour.