Good day to you and my usual welcome to the latest offering in my series about my 2014 trip to the Maritime Provinces which, should you so wish, you can read from the start here. I was having a great time rambling about with my dear friend Lynne in a 33-year-old campervan / RV which we had named Betsy.
I could not believe that I awoke on the morning of the 28th June in the Lunenburg Municipal campground but that is what happened. I was finding it hard to believe that we had only been on the road for eight nights as we had already seen and done so much it seemed like it must be longer. We had already decided to stay here again that night so if you want to discover what happened then please read on.
I did promise you in the last instalment that I would tell you in this one about Lunenburg and the campground so here goes.
So wonderful it is UNESCO rated.
I have mentioned elsewhere on this site that I have determined myself to visit many more UNESCO World Heritage sites and this is true but, whilst that was not my primary reason for visiting Lunenburg and I didn’t even know it was a UNESCO site until I saw the sign, I am very glad I went there.
Lunenburg just happened to be on the way as Lynne and I more or less stumbled on the place by accident and ended staying for a few days. Certainly, a little of what we did was planned when we got there although the last night was not as you shall find out on due course.
What we found was a largish town absolutely soaked in history with plenty to see and do and a really laid back vibe. The people were friendly to a fault, we found an excellent pub / restaurant where we spent the evenings (see the previous post) and certainly never found ourselves bored.
Just to walk through the town without visiting any of the various attractions is a delight as they have obviously taken a great pride in their heritage. For example, nearly every perfectly preserved old house will have a sign on it saying “built for Mickey Smith, boatbuilder in 1826” or something similar.
All this before you even start visiting the visitor sites which I hope to give you a flavour of on these pages.
I mentioned above the good people of Lunenburg and it is somewhat of an article of faith with me that any place, restaurant, bar, hotel, hostel, museum or whatever else is only as good as the people there. I have to say that the people of the Maritime Proivinces were generally as friendly as you could wish for and it was particularly noticeable here.
From asking directions to having a random chat with an old guy painting an historically important house, everyone was delightful, even allowing for my odd accent which they probably didn’t even understand! Before you ask, no, I don’t have any association with the town, I do not have relatives there, I don’t have business interests there and I am not getting paid to write this. A look at my other pages will hopefully suffice to put the readers mind at rest on that score.
Lunenburg is a cracking place to visit as evidenced by the numbers of travellers from all over the world that we met there, it is well set up for visitors and I really do recommend it thoroughly.
That is the town so let me tell you now about the campground where we had found ourselves.
A very pleasant campsite.
I must confess that I had slight reservations when my friend suggested this place as it has been my experience in the UK that officially run campsites my not be of quite the standards of their privately run counterparts. They did, however, get good writeups in several publications we were using and, in the event, I need not have worried.
The Board of Trade site in Lunenburg is nicely situated and pretty central meaning you can easily walk into town. I should mention that the nice situation also means that it is a bit of an uphill trek on the way home but the views are well worth it.
It is clean and well-run with all the normal facilities you would expect and I was very pleasantly surprised by it. There are EWS, EW and unserviced sites available although the electric supply is only 30 amps on all sites, not 50 which may be an issue for big rigs. There is internet access and pets are welcome. The Visitor Information Centre is also on the site which is handy.”
All in all, this is a very pleasant and well-run site so let me tell you what we got up to on our first day there.
As was usual, I woke before Lynne and let her have a well-deserved lie-in. All I was required to do was cook a few meals and consult a map occasionally, hardly onerous tasks.
Just stepping out of the van presented me with the delightful view you can see in the image above and so I thought I would take a wander down and investigate the harbour.
A beautifully scenic place to relax.
“I suppose it is only to be expected that if a place is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as I alluded to above, that they are going to make a large effort to make the most of whatever natural assets they have and this certainly appears to be the case here.
Having a little time on my hands one morning, I decided to take a stroll down here as it was near to the campsite we were staying on. I found it very pleasant and there were other people there also enjoying the weather, scenery and boat launching facilities.
It was only whilst researching this piece that I discovered the place had benefitted only the previous year to the tune of over $200,000 to spruce it up, jointly funded by all three levels of Government. They certainly have made rather a good job of it.
I am afraid I have been unable to unearth anything of the history of the wharf but I am taking a guess that there must have been a sawpit nearby which it served. This would certainly be suggested by the naming of the nearby Sawpit Road. If any reader could enlighten me further on this, I would be much obliged.
Whatever the history the visitor today can enjoy the wharf itself (which you are allowed to walk on), toilet facilities, picnic area and decent sized carpark. It really is a charming place although I don’t quite know what the pirate was up to!”
Readers of my other pages will know that I am very fond of walking and so, when I stumbled upon the Bay to Bay Trail just beside the wharf, I couldn’t help but explore it a little.
Subsequent research shows me that it is 10km. in length and runs from Southeastern Lunenburg to Mahone Bay, although there is a little spur that will take you back into town if you only want a really short walk.
Looking at it and with a knowledge of other trails in the region, I would not be at all surprised if this was a disused rail bed, it just has that kind of look about it. I did not have time to do more than a short section and found the one problem the walker or cyclist should be aware of, the dreaded Nova Scotian mosquito. Honestly, I was bitten half to death in a few minutes (it was in late June) so bring the necessaries with you.
Be aware also that for a portion of the trail it will be marked as the Back Harbour Trail (as shown) which shares the path. This is the spur I mentioned. If travelling Northwest, where the trail forks take the right hand to go to Mahone Bay and the left hand to return to Lunenburg.
The trail appears to be flat and level which would make it good for children and even looks stroller accessible although I would check that beforehand.
Apart from the blood-sucking mozzies it was a pleasant stroll and allowed me to loop back a different way to the campground where I found Lynne up and about and raring to go, so go we did. We dropped into the Visitor Information Centre I mentioned and armed ourselves with numerous leaflets before setting out to stroll down the hill into town. We must have got at least 50 yards before we stopped for our first point of interest.
What a lot of monuments.
“On Blockhouse Hill Road, adjacent to the campsite and in a commanding position overlooking Back Harbour we found a number of monuments all together which at first I took to be one but in fact are not. I suppose this site was chosen because, as the name suggests, this was the site of the blockhouse, a military building and therefore where much of the historical action took place.
Perhaps the most eye-catching of the three is the (granite?) monument to the people who arrived here in 1753 which was erected in 2003 on the 250th anniversary. It names all the original settlers and notes that they were predominantly German with smaller contingents from other Continental European states. Even the name Lunenburg suggests the Germanic influence which has remained in the place to the present day.
The smaller monument is dedicated more specifically to the 431 settlers from the principality of Mantbeliard which I must admit I had never heard of until that point. The monument informs me that it was a principality in the Northwest of Switzerland and now in France which was once the only Francophone Lutheran country in the world. As my late grandmother used to say, “It’s a bad day when you don’t learn something” and I learnt an awful lot during my trip to Canada. This monument also lists the names of the vessels and surnames of the settlers who arrived here.
The third “monument” is merely a small plaque of the official bilingual variety which you see all over the place and this describes the sack of Lunenburg in 1782 when the town was attacked by privateers who eventually left with their plunder and a promissory note for £1000 which was apparently never paid. I wonder what that is worth now.
We walked past the obviously still functioning harbour (as opposed to the one which houses the Museum vessels which we shall discover later) and I pictured the first of the many wonderful period houses that so characterise the town and by this time it was definitely beer o’clock. Here is the odd thing that happened.
Pleasant but totally empty.
Although I have sung the praises of the Knot pub in Lunenburg and rightly so, I decided that in the interest of fair reporting I should try one or two of the many other eating and drinking establishments in town. I should point out that I had previously discounted one or two as they were obviously far too high class for a long-haired scruff like me and so it was that we wandered into the Smugglers Cove Inn, or more precisely, the Scuttlebutt restaurant of that establishment.
It can often be difficult to know in Nova Scotia what is a pub serving food, what is a restaurant serving alcohol or indeed if there is much difference. This place is definitely a restaurant serving drinks.
A quick look around proved that we were the only patrons there which is never a good sign in my book, especially as this was late June and getting into high season. We had seen plenty of visitors and the campsite was all but full. Everything was soon made clear to me when the charming young lady behind the bar (and there is a recurring theme there with Canadian servers) informed me that we was more than welcome to have a beer but that the place was closing shortly. I could scarcely believe it. A bar closing at 1400 in the summer season, what lunacy was this?
Anyway, the young lady served me a well-poured pint of Garrison and told us not to rush ourselves as she had several things to do before she went off shift which was decent of her. Whilst she was attending to whatever it was she was doing, I had a bit of a look round and noted that it was a very modern styled restaurant, pleasantly done and not perhaps what you would have expected on viewing the rather older exterior of the premises.”
After that strange experience it was full steam ahead for the Knot where I was almost certain we could get a drink (a correct assumption) and we happily sat out the back in lovely sunshine for the next six hours but you probably don’t want to hear about that.
We did stop for a sundowner in the Brigantine Inn but at this latitude in June with a clear day the sun doesn’t go down until about 2200!
After that it was back up the hill which somehow seemed a lot steeper than it had that morning and back to Betsy for the rest of the evening.
29th June, 2014.
By my own appallingly verbose standards this post has so far not been excessively long so you are getting one of my occasional two for one offers as this day is “short” in writing terms and the next one is going to be a bit of a saga.
I know the day was fine again, which was a blessing, as I took an image of Betsy sitting in the sun and doesn’t she look magnificent? I reckon she was worth every cent of the $1,000CAD or so she cost to put on the road. I know I knocked up scrambled eggs on toast for brunch and after that I don’t have another image until after 2100 when we decided to take off into town. I can only surmise we spent the day relaxing in the sun in our comfy camp chairs reading.
On the way I managed the other image you can see of the rather smart horse-drawn carriage which was still plying it’s trade at this time of the evening and the driver of which favoured us with a cheery wave.
Obviously it was back to the Knot which was rapidly becoming our “local” in Lunenburg and with good reason. We were even being greeted like regulars by this stage, which was nice. We must have been pushing our luck with the kitchen as we were eating the lovely food you see above after 2200. Then it was back to Betsy up the hill again and another good night’s rest.
I promise you that the next post is full of all the tourist activities you could possibly want so stay tuned and spread the word.