Just like this morning’s cup of java, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. This tiny coastal village is hardly “just another port city.” Its rich history traces its lineage to the colonial era when the Protestants set up shop and wore those lovely red coats. They managed to survive numerous waves of Catholic Wabanaki Confederacy raids, the American War of Independence incursions and the War of 1812. Diversity has always been around since the very beginning and after a couple hundred years, French, English, aboriginal cultures buried the hatchet to make way for new cultures to settle. The key to overcoming any argument is to put a good two hundred years between the two parties and then... there should be peace.
|Lunenburg's wharf and financial district|
During our 2005 family trip to the province, we headed up to Lunenburg. My father was the only family member who had any idea about the significance of this place in the history books. After all, it was his idea to take the day trip and I do not regret his decision or tagging along for the ride. My Dad shares many qualities with his tribe of origin, including his love for the seas. The British were able to dominate the waterways on the entire globe from their tiny little speck of land - pretty amazing. Since I was a little squirt, I remember my Dad building very detailed model wooden boats from scratch with his power tools. He would become possessed by the demons of carpentry keeping a keen eye for detail without losing sight of the bigger picture, ensuring every imperfection was surgically removed from his divine work. He even made Brian and I some big destroyer class navy boats to play with our toy soldiers. In Lunenburg, a very special boat kept calling him over and he was only answering this call - we'll get to that shortly, just building up the suspense here.
Immediately upon arriving to town, we drove around the waterfront in search of a decent place to park our road warrior and spend some quality time on foot getting acquainted with the locals. The town’s claim to fame was more than being the first English settlement outside of Halifax. It was a home to a prominent shipbuilding community and served as an important seaport for Eastern Canada. Nowadays, it’s bread and butter is tourism, like Peggy's Cove and other beautiful small towns in the province welcoming thousands of visitors a year. The town centre reflects a unique architecture and civic design spreading along the waterfront, with several quaint hotels and inns admiring the captivating bay. There are a large number of restaurants serving quite a variety of local seafood dishes yet provide landlubber favourites for those who are adverse to the sea’s bounty. I guess not everyone loves cod tongues. There are art galleries, souvenir shops selling crafts and a number of quality museums to educate the rest of us on the importance of the sea and the lifestyle that goes with it.
My father was like a child on Christmas morning, checking if Santa had dropped by Lunenburg to leave his Bluenose schooner in the harbour. This is without a doubt a major attraction when the boat is not on tour - check the website. The Bluenose was a racing and fishing vessel that bravely competed against American East coast ships of similar classes. It became a certain crowd pleaser through its many consecutive victories against the Yanks, eventually becoming an undisputed heavyweight champion of the high seas. Its unparalleled success and beauty as a competitive seafaring juggernaut transformed it into a national icon in the eyes of a plethora of Maritimers. The ground crew and engineers however, decided to do some pimpin’ up of their smooth ride revamping it now to the Bluenose II (think of it like those pesky computer software updates you need to install on your PC). There is even a Bluenose IV in the works, although the glory days of these sexy beasts – as far as sailboats go, of course - are long gone and sequels are not often better - remember the Rocky series?
|The Bickfords vs The Bluenose II|
Should your travels take you to Nova Scotia, Lunenberg should be your first choice when contemplating a day trip out of Halifax. In the case that the Atlantic’s nautical superstar is touring the world giving out autographs to its loyal fans, there is still plenty to visit and a world of taste just a plate away. I would most certainly enjoy spending another fine summer evening there again, sipping on a warm cup of tea walking along the waterfront as the sun slowly heads out to brighten up other people’s days. It is truly an enriching experience giving us marooned on land a bird’s eye view into the history of fishing and a complicated intercultural dialogue that once existed. It is certainly an ideal destination for a family trip.