Authentic Lunenburg

Summer is the time to get out and about in the province and we started with a visit to the beautiful landscapes of Lunenburg County. Our three days away were filled with all the experiences that bring us joy: friends, food, and eye candy.

The fun started with lunch beside the LaHave River, entertained by our friends’ new chickens. Didn’t realize that chickens were such good builders of tubs for dirt bathing.

Then we visited the LaHave Weaving Studio located on the second floor of the old Foundry Garage, overlooking the end of Lunenburg Harbour. This is a project of weaver and teacher Lesley Armstrong, and it was a treat to see how she had transformed a grimy industrial workshop into a place of beauty. Lunenburg County seems to abound in these authentic spaces.

Lesley retrieved, from a dumpster, a very desirable metal sign for the Lunenburg Dairy. The “and” is delightful.

The evening walk through Lunenburg of course included continuous house gazing.

A Lincoln Continental has always looked good to me, and here it stylishly complimented the bump on the Fleur de Sel restaurant.

We ate at another Lincoln, Lincoln Street Food, where the chef Paolo Colbertaldo is proud to say his ingredients are sourced micro-regionally. That’s more precise than “local.”

When we asked Paolo where to eat breakfast, he was quick to suggest the Ploughman’s Lunch on the Dublin Shore. It is operated by a young couple who make fresh mozzarella, yogurt, and ice cream with milk from a small herd of water buffalo. Our breakfast ended with a dish of the best soft ice cream ever. Sublime.

The cafe is in an old general store that retains its original fittings. Just as amazing as the ice cream and the baked goods.

Our morning ramble included a drive over to Bush Island, with a walk down a tree-lined lane to this perfect little Anglican Church.

Once the church would have been outstanding on a treeless point.

Back walking the waterfront in Lunenburg, there was an opportunity to play “same and different” with the bow carvings of Theresa E Connor and Bluenose. Theresa’s red and green (port and starboard) hawsepipes were winners.

The next morning we saw a new schooner, nearly ready to be launched, in the magnificent old Smith and Rhuland shed.

By the time we visited our friend Doug Bamford’s little art gallery, with its exquisite sign made of reclaimed stained glass, I was realizing that artists and artisans, working in beautiful, traditional spaces is what makes Lunenburg so special to me. On the other hand, some of you might prefer the too bright house colours.


  • We also visited an extraordinary Lunenburg garden, terraced out of a steep site. The walls were built of granite salvaged from the foundations of the Home for Unwed Mothers that St. Mary’s University knocked down a few years ago. Universities are filled with smart people but sometimes they turn off their imagination.

I think the  sandstone head in the garden wall may have come from the old Art College buildings on Coburg Road. There were four heads, that originally came from a demolished building in downtown Halifax.

One of the four sandstone heads on NSCAD when it was located on Coburg Road. The photo come from a poster for the 1St Artist Festival in December 1976.

  • Lunenburg has undergone a remarkable transition in the last decades but generally it feels, to me, that enough authentic remains to counterbalance the honky-tonk. For example, when I visited in the 1970s, the Dauphinee Block Shop was still making fittings for sailing vessels, where now you buy ice cream.

  • Bailly’s Fuels has done a great job restoring their arched double door.

I remember the mismatched hinges they used to hang the doors.

  • And in the midst of all this picturesqueness, it was refreshing to come upon a classic 60s/70s two-story motel, the Wheelhouse. Love that roof, although the poorly-simulated UK callbox was a hideous mistake.

Love that roof.

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.