A Glimpse of Lovely Lunenburg

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is one of the most photogenic small towns I’ve visited in North America.

"Charming Lunenburg, Nova Scotia seen from Lunenburg Harbour"

Lovely Lunenburg seen from the harbor

Located on the province’s picturesque South Shore, Lunenburg captured my attention from the moment I drove into town on my Nova Scotia road trip. Colorful old buildings line the streets that stretch up the hill from the harbor where fishing boats bob along the wharf and head out to sea.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia seen from a boat on the harbor

Lunenburg seen from the harbor

Lunenburg is one of only two urban communities in North America that is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognized as being the best surviving planned British colonial town on the continent.  Old Town Lunenburg was recently recognized by Canada Post in a special commemorative stamp issue celebrating Canadian UNESCO sites. The Lunenburg stamp depicts a scene from a vantage point near those in the photos above and below.

"View of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia from Lunenburg Harbour"

View of Lunenburg from the harbor

In keeping with British colonial policy, Lunenburg was built as the second “model town” (after Halifax) in June 1753 and settled by German-speaking Protestant German, Swiss and Montbéliardian French colonists. The policy dictated that the towns would have seven north-south streets, 48 feet wide (with the exception of King Street, which is 80 feet) and intersected at right angles by nine 40 feet wide east-west streets with blocks divided into 14 lots of 40 by 60 feet each. Although there are 21 North American settlements which were designed with this plan, Lunenburg is the only one that has remained in such excellent condition, maintaining much of its original appearance.

There’s more to tell about the history, mystery, and attractions of Lunenburg. But for now, I’ll give you a glimpse of the color and character of this lovely town.


King Street in Old Town Lunenburg, nicknamed “UNESCO Fresco”, has a number of dining, shopping, and lodging establishments in charming landmark buildings within short walking distance of the harbor and other attractions. The view shown below is from Memorial Park where a monument honors citizens of Lunenburg and the surrounding area who died in World War I. The colorful buildings on King Street include Cilantro – The Cooks Shop, a family owned-and-operated kitchenware retail store, and the adjacent Rime Restaurant.

"UNESCO Fresco, Top: King Street from Memorial Park Bottom: Cilantro and Rime Restaurant in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

UNESCO Fresco, Top: King Street from Memorial Park Bottom: Cilantro and Rime Restaurant

Also on King Street is the main building of the Mariner King Inn where the reception, breakfast room and several guest rooms are located. And…. there’s also a ghost who some claim to have seen around the inn and from outside in the top window looking out to sea.

"Main building of Mariner King Inn"

Mariner King Inn

At the corner of King and Pelham Streets  is the Mariner King Inn’s aptly-named Cranberry Suites addition where I spent two nights in a top floor suite overlooking King Street. As far as I know, there isn’t a resident ghost in this building, but I was alert for one.

"Cranberry Suites at Mariner King Inn in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

Cranberry Suites at Mariner King Inn

Along Montague Street

Heading toward the harbor and turning left onto Montague Street from King Street, I spotted a horse-drawn carriage in the distance. It seemed to better suit the ambiance and architecture of the shops, inns, restaurants than the vehicles parked along the street.

"Horse-drawn carriage at the end of Montague Street, Lunenburg"

Horse-drawn carriage at the end of Montague Street

"Elizabeth's Books, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

Elizabeth’s Books and other shops on Montague Street

"Spinnaker Inn and Salt Shaker Deli on Montague Street, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

Spinnaker Inn and Salt Shaker Deli on Montague Street

More colorful and historic Lunenburg buildings

Two-thirds of Lunenburg’s buildings date from the 19th century and at least eight are from the founding period during the 18th century. Many of them have historic property designations. These are just a few of those that caught my eye.

"49 Cornwallis Street, Finck Holder House, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

49 Cornwallis Street, Finck Holder House

At 49 Cornwallis Street is the Finck Holder House (above) which was built in 1829. At the turn of the 20th century, Mr. Finck boarded up all of the windows on the north side of the house in an effort to protect his daughters from the eyes of peeping Toms living in the tenement house next door.

"Allan R. Morash House, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

Allan R. Morash House

Built in 1888, the Allan R. Morash (above) house is a large, two-story house with a central “Lunenburg bump”, a dormer characteristic of many homes in Lunenburg.

"Lennox Inn, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

Lennox Inn

The Lennox Inn (above) was built in 1791 and is the oldest continuously operating inn in Canada.

"Boscawen Inn, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

Boscawen Inn

Boscawen Inn (above) is a lovely Queen Ann style structure on the hillside overlooking Lunenburg Harbour and the Old Town. It was built in 1888 by prominent Lunenburg figure, Senator H.A.N. Kaulbach, as a wedding present for his daughter. It also has its share of ghost stories.

"Ironworks Distillery in the old blacksmith's shop, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

Ironworks Distillery in the old blacksmith’s shop

Built at the turn of the 20th century, Walters Blacksmith Shop is now the Ironworks Distillery (above)– as charming on the inside as it is on the outside. I spent a lovely time here sampling a variety of handcrafted spirits, including the Ironworks Apple Brandy that I used in my Nova Scotia Surprise recipe.

"St. John Anglican Church, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

St. John Anglican Church

St. John’s Anglican Church at 65 Cumberland Street was the second Anglican church in Nova Scotia, built in 1753. It is designated as a Provincial Heritage Property and National Historic Site. On November 1, 2001, there was a fire in the church that resulted in considerable damage and the need for a four-year restoration project. I toured inside the church and will share photos later.

"Lunenburg Academy at night, Nova Scotia"

Lunenburg Academy

Located on Gallows Hill and surrounded by one of Lunenburg’s oldest cemeteries is Lunenburg Academy, built between 1893-1895. As you can see above, it can appear a little eerie on a rainy night — especially while on a ghost tour with Lunenburg Walking Tours. It is a large three-story building, an example of late Victorian eclectic architecture. It is historically significant in the development of Nova Scotia’s educational system as it evolved in the 19th century from one-room schoolhouses to the Academy system. It’s the only surviving building from the Nova Scotia Academy system that is still a functioning school.

A few bonus glimpses

"Shop sign, bench on King Street, colorful doors and yard display in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia"

Shop sign, bench on King Street, colorful doors and yard display

What are your favorite picturesque towns?

Thanks to Nova Scotia Tourism Agency and Taste of Nova Scotia for giving me a glimpse of lovely Lunenburg.

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38 thoughts on “A Glimpse of Lovely Lunenburg

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      The museum is really well done. In addition to the artifacts and information, it’s wonderful to see how much pride the people have for their heritage.

  1. jan

    I have never seen a bad photo of Nova Scotia – what an incredible place it is. At first I fell in love with the grey and white Mariner photo and then I saw the Cranberry Suites – what a beautiful building and colour. The whole town is captivating though.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Good point, Jan! Can’t say that I’ve seen a bad pic of Nova Scotia either. 🙂 Lunenburg is especially photogenic.

  2. Mike

    This sounds fantastic, Cathy! I would love to take that horse drawn carriage ride 🙂 What is up with the story of Mr. Finck boarding up all of the windows and peeping toms?? That made me laugh out loud! For a spontaneous answer to your question and locales you and Mr TWS are no doubt very familiar with. There are some very picturesque gold rush towns on Hwy 49 in the California foothills going east from Yuba Pass 🙂

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Oh, you are so right about those old gold rush towns in California. Columbia comes to mind at the moment.

  3. Maria Falvey

    Cathy, Beautiful shots of intriguing spaces. I’m envisioning these spaces dressed up in autumnal finery or wrapped in winter’s snowy blanket – truly a setting for all seasons.

  4. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    Lunenburg is a charming village. I am amazed at how detailed the town planning instructions are and am glad that its layout has been preserved for so long. I’ve always been a fan of Victorian architecture, and I see many buildings I like in this post. That Academy practically glows against the dark sky.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Aren’t those colors gorgeous? And they’re so well kept up, which I imagine isn’t easy with salt air and winter weather.

  5. Marcia

    Lunenberg is very picturesque, Cathy. I never would have guessed that it was a planned British town with all the vibrant color there. I’m surprised the Brits didn’t give it a proper English name.
    As I read through I kept thinking of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia and Annapolis, Maryland. Must plan a trip there soon.

  6. Marisol@TravelingSolemates

    Hi Cathy, thanks for the tour of Lunnenberg. I looks very charming. I love its burst of colors.It’s great that old homes and inns are well preserved. The anglican church is so stunning; what an exquisite architecture. You did really capture the eeriness of the academy. I heard so much beautiful things about Nova Scotia. I hope to visit soon.

  7. Lucy

    What a pretty place – the wooden buildings and bright colours really remind me of some of the fjord villages in Norway I visited earlier this year!

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Reminds me of pics I’ve seen of Norway — hope I get a chance to make a comparison first hand sometime.

  8. Francesca (@WorkMomTravels)

    I am in love with this post, Cathy! I think I commented on one of your earlier posts that I think I’d love Lunenberg. It’s got all the charm and scenery that I imagine an historic harbor town to have. I really love the look of St. John Anglican Church. Very striking.

  9. Jennifer

    What a pretty little town! The types of buildings remind me of some of the mansions in the little towns near and in my hometown in Pennsylvania. I’d love to visit Nova Scotia because it looks like there is a lot to see and do there.

  10. Pola (Jetting Around)

    Just lovely! That first photo alone makes me want to visit… And “UNESCO fresco” is such a cool and catchy name – it seems this town has lots of character! I could see myself walking around the streets and then sitting by the water with a book. Not a bad idea, huh?

  11. Sophie

    Isn’t Lunenburg just lovely… we adored the brightly coloured houses, the cheerful little harbour, and the great cafes. A ghostly walking tour sounds wonderful.

  12. Pingback: Mariner King Inn: Impressions and a Tasty Surprise » Traveling with Sweeney

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