Lunenburg County Sojourn

Are you yearning for the arrival of the softer days of spring so you can ramble in the countryside? Early last summer we spent a couple of days based in Lunenburg town and noticed many little things, but at the time it felt like there was no need to post them because folks didn’t want to see more “charms of the South Shore.” Now that the light changes every day it is just possible to think of spring and summer adventures. So here are photo reminders of what awaits you.

Mahone Bay

A reward of visiting Lunenburg County for longer than a day trip is the opportunity to wander at a slower pace. In Mahone Bay we walked some unfamiliar districts. The town is known by the three big wooden churches at the head of the bay so it was a surprise to discover a fourth, the 1874 United Baptist, in a quiet residential area above the bustle of the waterfront. Also the neighbouring white picket fence and roses are classics.

Nearby was the 1914 school, now the community centre. The church and school are on an elevated plateau so there is probably a viewpoint where they can be seen from the other side of the bay.

Old Town Lunenburg

In Lunenburg we stayed in a stylish, newly-built loft on the waterfront. Our space had very high ceilings and featured “a laser fight” of tie rods stitching the structure together.

We have often stopped to enjoy a view of the dazzling Lunenburg Academy, but had never explored the vast Hillcrest Cemetery that surrounds it.

Our mission was to seek out some magnificent 18th and early 19th century slate stones with hearts and script that show the early settlers celebrating their Germanic culture. So special.




Because we were in-residence right on the Lunenburg waterfront, I was able to ramble early on a misty morning.  A pair of dories, the classic work boat of offshore schooner fishing, looking very freshly painted. “Dory buff” and green is a very traditional colour combination for a dory.

A more contemporary colour palate.

Lincoln Street treasures

This c1900 building façade has always intrigued me. It is clad in stamped metal, similar to the stamped metal ceilings you often see on late 19th century shops. Brick replaces the original ground floor shop front that must have been spectacular.

When you look closely there is a seam opening up on a bracket, evidence that sheet was fabricated into the ornate architecture.

Here is the stamped metal ceiling in the LaHave Bakery to remind you of that look.

Further down Lincoln Street is this elegant c1930 commercial building. I did not immediately notice that the architect had to balance shop fronts of different sizes and adapt to the slope of the street. Nice job! And those tiny round windows floating high above the arched doorways: what joy.

Animal life

A good trip to the country includes some wildlife sightings. A colourful pheasant in Mahone Bay.

An overdressed seagull sports rubber boots in Lunenburg.

And nearby was a foxy creature (a raccoon dog escaped from Wuhan?) in crocs. Who knew that critters were so footwear curious?

This whale silhouette architectural flourish was a surprise. It reminded me of the “rubber stamps” that were used in logbooks of 19th century whaling vessels to record each whale that was harvested.

Venturing out of Lunenburg

On a damp day we went driving along the shore. It felt particularly old-timey to see that cars are still allowed on Crescent Beach, with a posted speed limit. The Friends of Crescent Beach Society get asked about this often and list on their website eight reasons for beach driving. I liked learning that until a parallel road was built in 1911 the beach was how you drove or walked to the LaHave Islands (where most people would have travelled by boat).

Lahave River Books describes itself as a “delightful surprise” and that was totally accurate on a drizzly afternoon. Comfy furniture, sublime river view, all surrounded by walls of books.

We were particularly excited to come upon a reading nook with a portrait of a well-known local character, Robert Wickstrom, who operated Mariner Craft in Petite Riviere in the 1960s-80s. Some of his most beloved products were calendars and astrological charts that featured trash talking frogs.

On a visit to his shop in the 1970s, Wick proudly showed us the private mini cinema he had created on the second floor. It had seats from an old theatre, a 16mm projector and one wall papered with 100 promotional photos of 1930s child star Shirley Temple. He added his signature to one of the photos and gave it to us.

Oddities noticed on foot in Lunenburg

Only pedestrians will realize that a random lump of concrete beside a sidewalk is actually a fragment of the Berlin Wall.

A few streets up, beside the Lutheran church, is a tiny walking labyrinth. “It symbolizes our spiritual journey inward to discover ourselves and our return journey to engage the world.” That is not a bad way to describe our couple of days of rambling in Lunenburg County.


  • The slower pace of our visit allowed lots of time to look out the window of our room.

I even started to draw what I saw, which does not happen very often these days but is the best way to “see” where you are.

  • On our way back to Halifax we made the detour into New Ross for pizza and meat supplies from Peasant’s Pantry. Well worth the journey. Also they have these charming gable designs to admire.

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.