Hello once again everyone and welcome to my series of posts referring to a 2014 trip round the Maritime Provinces in Canada with my dear friend Lynne in a very old campervan / RV called Betsy.
Regular readers will know that we had spent the previous day doing lots of nothing which seems like a bit if a sin in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, which is where we were but it was obviously what we wanted to do so we did it. I know it is not a travel style that suits everyone, sometimes not even Lynne if truth be told, but we seemed to be getting on all right with it.
Our brief wanders around town, coupled with the very informative literature from the Visitor Information Centre, which was conveniently on the campsite, showed us that there was a lot to see here so we determined to have a day of being full-bore tourists. Ladies and gentlemen, in the previous post I promised you a busy post here and that is what you shall have. If you would like to know what we did then please read on.
As always, fair warning, this really is a long one so take whatever safety measures you need to protect yourself against one of my lengthier rambles!
Our plan, insofar as we ever had a plan on this trip, was to look round the town and it’s attractions and then, whenever they closed in the evening, go a few miles further along the Lighthouse Route and find another campground. It didn’t have to be far, just a change of scenery.
With this in mind, we had breakfast, unhooked Betsy and drove the short distance into lovely Lunenburg, as I was already mentally calling it. We parked up, armed ourselves with the free leaflets and just started walking which is the best way to see anywhere in my opinion but is remarkably easy here as the old town is relatively compact. Here is what UNESCO have to say about it in their precis a fairly lengthy 1995 full listing.
“Old Town Lunenburg is the best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America. Established in 1753, it has retained its original layout and overall appearance, based on a rectangular grid pattern drawn up in the home country.
The inhabitants have safeguarded the town’s identity throughout the centuries by preserving the wooden architecture of the houses and public buildings, some of which date from the 18th century and constitute an excellent example of a sustained vernacular architectural tradition.
Its economic basis has traditionally been the offshore Atlantic fishery, the future of which is highly questionable at the present time.”
(used under commons licence with permission).
Everything UNESCO says is true but it doesn’t fully do justice to how amazing the town really is, it is one of those situations where “you had to be there” so I hope to do that for you now.
Before we had even started exploring properly we saw our old “friend” from a previous post, the horse-drawn carriageman who again gave us a wave, he really was a jolly chap. He must work serious hours in the season as we had previously seen him at past 2100 in the evening and here he was out on the road at lunchtime. I do hope the poor horse doesn’t get tired but it looks very well cared for.
Our first point of interest was the Central United Church on Cumberland Street the first of many places of worship we were to see that day in the very typical Lunenburg style which is apparently very similar to the Cape Cod style. This fine building only dates to 1885 and was built to the design of Edward Elliot, a famous Halifax architect, although the history of Methodism in Lunenburg goes back to 1814 albeit at a different site.
I mention Methodism as it was one of the three Churches which joined together in Canada in 1925 to form the United Church, the others being the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians. I am so used to finding out about the various schisms the Christian church has undergone since it’s inception that this concurrence, aggregation or whatever the correct antonym of schism is, surprised me a little.
Regular readers will know that I am fascinated by places of worship so I really fancied a look inside and the attached website indicates that it would have been well worth it but, to my great surprise, the Church was locked. Lunenburg certainly did not strike me as a lawless place, quite the opposite, and with the emphasis so much on tourism I was sure it would have been open. We were to see several other Churches that day and, with one notable exception, they were all locked. To this day I cannot fathom out why.
If places of worship are one of my great interests then another is War Memorials, graves and just about anything to do with military history as a look at virtually any post on this site will attest. Our next stop was a thing of joy to me although I am not sure if joy is the correct word to use about memorials to the fallen.
The War Memorial area is in a beautifully tended park area, complete with bandstand, and again I was struck about how conscientiously the Canadians honour their dead. It has not one but four memorials, one for men of each World War who made the ultimate sacrifice, one for the large number of Norwegian seamen who fled here in 1940 when the Germans invaded their country and one for a long-disbanded Unit I had never heard of.
The Norwegian memorial, bilingual in English and Norwegian, was one of many such that I had seen / was to see all over Nova Scotia and commemorates an interesting part of World War 2.
The Norwegians are inveterate seamen (think Vikings here) and the first European to set foot in North America was Lief Erikson who did so about 500 years before Columbus ever did.
“Lucky Lief” was probably born in Iceland to a Norwegian father and Icelandic mother and, whilst his landfall was in present-day Newfoundland, there is increasing evidence to suggest that he may have sailed as far South as Nova Scotia.
Almost 1,000 years later his countrymen were still sailing when Hitler’s forces marched into Norway and had approximately 2,000 men on whalers and associated factory ships at sea in the North Atlantic. They were ordered to head West which they did, eventually congregating at Bedford Basin near Halifax (we’ll be visiting there eventually on this trip).
After negotiations between the Canadians and the Norwegian Government-in-exile, a camp was established in Lunenburg to house 800 of them to be trained as military seamen and soldiers. A total of 21 of these brave men are buried locally, presumably having died from accident or illness and I got the impression the links between the Scandinavians and the Nova Scotians are still strong.
I was lucky enough to play a festival in Norway some years ago which entailed an overnight stay and my Norwegian literally extends to three words but without looking it up I would make an educated guess that “Alt for Norge” means “All for Norway” and this is what these men gave.
The monument you see above is to the former military Unit I was unaware of, the Lunenburg Regiment. I knew Lunenburg had a long military history but this was a new one on me and so a little research was called for.
The Lunenburg Regiment was formed in 1870 with the raising of the ’75th Lunenburg Battalion of Infantry’, a militia (Reserve Unit) and was re-designated as the ’75th Lunenburg Regiment’ on 8th May, 1900′. It’s first overseas service was during the First World War when it served as part of the ‘112th “Overseas” Infantry Battalion’, CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) where it saw action on the Western Front.
After being amalgamated several times it was finally stood down in 1936 although it’s successor units are in service to this day as part of the West Nova Scotia Regiment which has served as recently as 2014 in Afghanistan and continues as a Reserve Battalion to this day. Now you know and so do I. We shall meet them again shortly.
Literally a minute’s walk away we “found” the Presbyterian Church of St. Andrew and the choice of Saint is fairly obvious given the huge Scottish influence in Nova Scotia. The Provincial flag has a St. Andrew’s cross on it and the very name of the Province translates as New Scotland, granted to settlers by King James I of England who also happened to be King James VI of Scotland. We shall be seeing much more of the Scots as we travel around.
As you might expect in Lunenburg, this church has a lot of history and has the longest standing Presbyterian congregation in Canada which dates back to before 1759 when it originally met in a private house. It then “borrowed” the Anglican Church (which we will visit shortly) until they built their own in 1770. The first minister was the magnificently named Reverend Bruin Romkes Comingo, who sensibly was referred to as Mr. Brown. He tended his flock for an amazing 50 years until 1820 when he died at the goodly age of 95.
The present Church dates to 1828 and is in the neo-Gothic style although to my untrained eye most of the Churches in Nova Scotia seem to be in what I call Maritime Style i.e. whitewashed clinker-built wood and in a region with such an abundance of good timber and experienced shipwrights I suppose this is hardly surprising.
I have no evidence for this but I suppose the skills involved in clinker building a ship’s keep are easily transferable to building the wall of a building. Please don’t shout at me if this is all complete rubbish.
Also, I am slightly surprised there is a United Church merely yards from the Presbyterian Church. If they are both here it must suggest that not all the Presbyterians joined the United communion in 1925. I knew there would be a schism somewhere.
One thing the two churches had in common was that this one was locked up as well but at least the external examination gave me an opportunity to take an image of one of the oddest weathervanes I have ever seen, it is brilliant. I suppose we had better move on.
The building you can see above is actually a liar, if an inanimate object can be said to lie. You can clearly see the designation “Court House” above the door and, in fairness it once was, but that function has long since moved to another building and this is now municipal offices.
It is not that old in Lunenburg terms as it was completed in 1893 to the design of Henry Busch, another famous architect. If you are interested, it is apparently in the Second Empire style whatever that is and which I had never heard of before. The other unusual feature of the construction is that it is of red brick in a town where the huge majority of buildings are of wooden construction as we have already seen.
Building a Courthouse at this time was a bit of a risky, some might even say arrogant, move on the part of the Lunenburg authorities as they were in dispute with Bridgewater over where the judicial function for the area should be situated. Bridgewater were building their own Courthouse at the same time and it took an Act of Parliament to get them to agree to share the duties. Politicians!
Obviously it was a functioning local Government building so, like the churches, it was “look but you can’t come in” and we shall perambulate (lovely word) a little further, there is still so much to see.
We were walking towards another large white clinker-built wooden church when I stopped to take these images as they are just so typical of a Lunenburg house and the sign, again a typical feature of dwellings here, indicates that it was of great antiquity although I still cannot work out if it means the year 1700 or is just badly rendered English for the late 1700’s.
Either way, for a building of that age it is in superb repair and obviously undergoing more, it must cost a fortune to keep these homes in such a perfect condition. Look closely at the name on the sign – Heinrich Ernst Shoemaker. Obviously the forenames are Germanic, as reflects the large German influence in the town and I wondered if he or his parents had actually been born Schumacher or some variant thereof. I know it was, and still is to a lesser extent, a practice of immigrants to change their names in order to blend in with their new surroundings. Who knows?
The home of Herr Schumacher(?) is directly across the road from our next destination, the Anglican Church of St. John and, joy of joys, it was open! Happy days. Here are my original notes, added to with further research in 2021.
Burnt but unbowed.
“During our time in Lunenburg we passed several fine looking churches, all in roughly the same architectural style, which I suppose is understandable and consists of white planking trimmed with black window frames, guttering and the like.
Apparently the style is known as Carpenter Gothic and they all seemed to be well cared for externally at least. Regrettably, the only one we found to be open was St. John’s Anglican Church of Canada. and so we paid it a visit.
Even before you get inside the building there are several things of interest outside it. The first, which had a particular resonance with me (no pun intended) is the rather magnificent Jessen Bell which was cast in the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, a mere 15 minutes walk from my home in London and which I pass regularly.
Mr. Jessen presented it to the Church in 1814 but sadly died before he ever heard it rung. I shall explain the reason for it being outside later. There is also a plaque commemorating the open-air Protestant services which began here in 1753 prior to the building of the Church. This plaque was erected on the bicentennary.
As an update to what I wrote above about the Jenner Bell being made near my home here is a brief diversion. Demand for bells had fallen by the early 21st century and it was no longer viable to keep the Whitechapel Bell Foundry open so it was sold in 2017 to “big business” who now want to build a 103-bedroom hotel complete with rooftop pool at the rear of the premises.
Understandably, both locals and even national figures like TV historian Dan Cruickshank are appalled at this idea and a public enquiry was held in October 2020 with the results awaited in summer 2021.
It is worth remembering that when it closed it was the oldest contunuously working manufactory in the UK with a history of over 450 years, 250 of them in Whitechapel. It had cast just about every famous bell you have ever heard or heard of including the Liberty Bell and Big Ben.
I shall update this when I find out more and sorry for yet another digression, back to Lunenburg and the Church.
On entering the Church you will be given a guided tour by knowledgeable young people. Amongst the things they will point out to you are the magnificent ceiling decorated to look like a clear starry night, the very fine stained glass work behind the altar (and elsewhere), and I also managed to find several military memorials and even the colours of the Lunenburg Regiment, laid up here after 1936 on the disbandment of the Unit.
What they will also show you are a few scorch marked pews and a piece of a chancel wall and it is these that give rise to the title of this piece. In 2001 a fire took hold in what was essentially an old wooden building with many combustible materials in it. Despite the best efforts of fire crews from miles around the place was all but razed to the ground. You will be told many poignant stories of firefighters physically dragging out religious relics and taking them to a nearby place of safety.
Almost immediately after the fire, the parishioners decided that they were not going to merely build a new church on the site but try to restore as much as possible of the old one using salvaged materials and traditional techniques to make it look as close to the original as possible. They managed to achieve this by 2005 and there is a fascinating story attached to the restoration which you can see on the attached website.
I mentioned above the star painted ceiling which looked fairly random according to old source material. It was only when an astronomer went to work on the pattern that he discovered that the star pattern was actually the night sky as seen from Lunenburg on the night of the first Christmas. Considering when it was done and without the use of computers, it is a tremendous piece of astronomy.
Another fascinating artefact is the so-called Vinegar Bible, which was printed in 1717 in Oxford, UK by the printer to King George I. The reason for it’s curious name is that there is a misprint in one of the Gospels rendering the word vineyard as vinegar and hence the unusual name. Because of the light I could not avoid the reflection of the stained glass on the glass of the cabinet so I tried to centre it as best I could and I think it looks slightly “arty”, which I rarely manage.
What you see here is called the Rudolf Hatchment, yet another word I had never heard before so naturally had to investigate. A hatchment is a diagonal piece of canvas on a wooden frame and bearing a primitive “coat of arms” that was probably never sanctioned by any herald.
It was traditionally attached to the door of the home and then preceded the owner at his funeral before being either returned to the home or, more usually, laid up in a Church. This example, which obviously survived the fire, was the hatchment of Leonard Christopher Rudolf (1710 – 1784), a prominent businessman who settled in the town in 1753, having emigrated to Nova Scotia.
Rudolf and his family were engaged in trade with the United States as represented by the stars and stripes although the flag of what is now the USA was the British Union flag and the first “stars and stripes” would not come into use until 1777. Perhaps Mr. Rudolf knew something others didn’t.
Of course you know what is going to happen next, don’t you? Almost inevitably I had to have a little look at Mr. Rudolf, or should I say Major Rudolf?
He was born in a country that doesn’t exist now in an empire long fallen, namely Franconia in the Holy Roman Empire, specifically the town of Illesheim which is in Bayern (Bavaria) in modern Germany. He became an officer in the Regiment of Margrave of Baden-Durlach and you’ll be glad to know I am not going to research them.
In 1751 he arrived in the “New World” at Halifax on board the ship “Pearl” with 85 other families and I’ll bet a lot of their names are on the memorial to the founders we saw in the previous post. He must have been a man of independent means as he is the only male on the passenger manifest who has no occupation given, the rest being mostly farmers and, yes, I did look up the manifest.
It is amazing what you can find online and how much time I have on my hands under virus house arrest!
On April 31, 1757, he married Dorothea Catherine DeBoven but I suppose he felt obliged to as the first of his ten children had been born the year before. To reinforce what I said about immigrants previously, it is interesting to note that all his children have English sounding names like Patrick, Francis, Charles etc.
Maj. Rudolf appears to have kept up his military activities as he was involved in the “Great Expulsion” of the Acadians and also wrote in his journal about the American privateer raid previously mentioned. He did all this as well as maintaining his business interests.
I know this whole piece sounds, and is, obsessive but I think it is such a classic example of how things must have been for the very earliest Nova Scotians and I find it fascinating.
These are just a few of the wonders on offer in what is the second oldest Protestant Church in Canada (the oldest being St. Paul’s, Halifax)”.
Another couple of lovely houses now,the first the family home of John Henry Kaulbach who was for many years (1798 – 1828) High Sheriff and upon whose death was succeeded by his son who held the post for a further 49 years, quite a family tradition and that is all I’ll bore you with about them.
I am a little confused by this as it is at 79 Pelham Street yet there is a guesthouse (should that be gasthaus?) called Kaulbach House two doors down at #75. I think there were a lot of Kaulbachs in Lunenburg.
The second house is the “Altestes Haus”, German for “Oldest House” and this may be more true than it appears. It is at 80 – 82 Pelham Street and is sometimes called the Pelham House, amongst other things. Again, it is a private residence which has been in the same family for five generations so you cannot just walk in but I’ll help you with that in a moment.
It’s shown construction date of c.1760 puts it less than a decade after the arrival of the German and French Hugenots (Protestants) who were so prevalent in founding the community as we have seen. Even with this date it would be the oldest house in the town but there is a fascinating story here and obviously I am going to tell you it.
In the 1970’s the current owner’s father inherited the house and was concerned about a sagging ceiling which had come about by the previous occupant adding an additional staircase. During the remedial work the contractors made an incredible discovery when they found beams indicating that this structure had been built on the “carcass” of an earlier one.
Various experts were summoned and quickly established that the original “host” dwelling was 17th century Acadian architecture which pushed it’s origin back a century, potentially as far as 1630. This undeniably makes it the “Altestes Haus” but the history doesn’t end there, history just doesn’t know when to stop in Lunenburg.
In the 19th century part of the house was used for 30 years as the Customs House, presumably due to it’s proximity to the waterfront (it overlooks the harbour) and in World War 2 it was home to various Norwegian officers who were associated with Camp Norway which we bumped into earlier.
I promised you some interior images earlier and you can see some lovely ones in a wonderful magazine article here. I am saving the bombshell for last as usual and I promise I am not making this up. You can go one better than just looking at a magazine article, you can actually stay here as the entire premises is a holiday let accommodating up to nine guests and if you don’t believe me, here is the proof. I didn’t dare look at the prices!
Let’s go walking again before I get jealous and have a look at some more of these beautiful buildings. Remember, we haven’t even got to the Museums yet.
Another short walk downhill from Pelham Street brought us back to the Brigantine Inn, complete with Grand Banker Bar and Grill and no, it does not refer to a senior man in finance. The Grand Banks are an underwater geological feature off the coast here. You might remember from a previous post that I had popped in here for a quick drink a couple of days before.
In daylight I noticed the obligatory sign indicating the building had been constructed in 1876 for Stephen Morash, shipbuilder. He must have been a very good shipbuilder to afford a spread like this. Records are confused but, if I have it correctly, he died in 1933 at his daughter’s home in nearby Bridgewater at the age of either 94 or 105, depending on which date of birth you believe. Either way, he was understandably Lunenburg’s oldest citizen. What a good innings.
At least we have finally made it to the waterfront and the red building you can see in the image is where we are heading for next, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Let’s go and have a look, along with my original notes.
A few old fishermen’s tales here!.
“We all know the fishermen’s tall tales about “the one that got away” and so on but the great thing about visiting the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is that all the tales are true.
Apart from the excellent museum itself, there are two perfectly preserved vessels for the visitor to explore, the Cape Sable which is a 1960’s side trawler and the Theresa E. Connor which is Canada’s oldest surviving saltbank schooner. Because there is so much to write about in the museum building, I shall deal with the vessels in a moment.
The main building appears to be housed in an old warehouse or similar building built in the traditional Maritime Provinces style and striking in it’s red paintjob.
After passing the obligatory (and rather large) giftshop, you come to an aquarium with a decent selection of species on display. There is also a “touch tank” for youngsters and, indeed, the whole place is very good for children.
There are various activities during the day and we were there in time for a surprisingly interesting presentation on lobsters including how to tell male from female. I cannot remember the fine detail now but it seemed to make sense at the time.
On the subject of lobster, they also have the preserved remains of the largest lobster I have ever seen (see the image). Incidentally, I was not being untidy, I deliberately left my cigarette lighter there to give a sense of scale. If memory serves it was about 24 pounds weight or something ludicrous like that. What a Thermidor that would have made.
There are numerous exhibits in this rather splendid place including an actual boatbuilding workshop which normally turns out dorys, the mainstay of the fishing fleet at one time. You may get a chance to try your hand at rug-hooking or even launch a model boat (kids seem to love this one).
Do give yourself plenty of time to visit, as you will need it, especially if you visit the two vessels which you really should.”
Let’s have a look now at the vessels I mentioned, again with my original notes.
Oldest in the country.
“This piece concerns the Theresa E. Connor, the oldest saltbank schooner still in existence.
Built in 1938 in the town which is still her home she was involved in the long since commercially ended type of fishing known as dory fishing. Under this system a relatively large vessel would put pairs of men out in small boats called dories from where they fished with baited trawl before returning to the larger vessel.
By the 1960’s larger steel trawlers had taken over and the old saltbankers were just about obsolete. There is a rather poignant tale that on it’s last voyage under it’s old captain in 1963, he could not even muster enough of a crew to fully man the vessel. Fishermen were just not willing to undergo the hardship and risk the danger any more.
The vessel fished for a few more years and then it was sold to the local Marine Museum Society which was the beginning of the excellent facility you see today.
If you are wondering where the term saltbanker comes from, it refers to the fact that in summer the fish caught were preserved in salt until they returned to port. During the winter, ice served the purpose. I have included here an image of the oldest part of the Museum which was built in 1900 as offices and a salt store for .C. Smitn & Co. and also one of an old ice crushing machine.
If you are further wondering who Theresa E. Connor was, well her middle name was Eleanor and she was part of a family that owned one of the the biggest fishing companies in the area. Sadly, she died in 1954.
If you are still wondering anything else after the well-annotated displays then this is where the best part of the whole experience comes into play.
Both vessels in the Museum have proper old sailors / fishermen aboard who are happy to chat about anything, give tours etc. and this really brings the old vessels alive, lovingly maintained as they are in their own right.
This really is part of a great day out, and I do recommend it.”
On now to the second brilliant vessel, the Cape Sable.
Another great old vessel.
“I have written above about the Theresa E. Connor which was an old saltbanker eventually put out of business by more modern steel trawlers with a larger capacity and in a strangely fitting way, the other large vessel here is exactly the type of craft that would have superseded the older dory boats.
Built in Holland in 1962 she fished for 20 years before she, in her turn, was superseded by larger stern trawlers. Although just a little over 20 years younger than her sister vessel, there is a marked difference in the two, especially the crew quarters which seem much more comfortable on the newer vessel. The march of progress, I suppose.
As with the other vessel, the great joy of visiting the Cape Sable is being able to chat to the wonderful old mariner who is what they call a Heritage Interpreter here. He really made everything come to life, it was great.”
I hope you enjoyed our trip round this impressive Museum complex and just a quick practical word if you are visiting Nova Scotia and are anything like us, diving into every Museum we could find. Although the initial outlay is quite steep it is well worth investing in a Nova Scotia Museum Pass as it really will save you a lot of money. If you are a member of the CAA or AAA motoring organisations your membership card will get you a 10% discount. This situation seems to be fairly standard across the Province.
We are finished our day out round Lunenburg but just one more thing to see before we get back on the Trunk 3 and for this we had to drive a bit the “wrong” way i.e. Southwest on the 322 towards Riverport. Here is what we went to see.
Lots of ovens but no bread.
“This refers to a place that is technically in the area of Riverport with the full postal address of 326 Ovens Road, PO Box 38, Riverport, Nova Scotia, BOJ 2WO if you want to look it up on a map. In fairness, it is only about a 15 – 20 minute drive from Lunenburg itself and you will need to drive as I do not believe there is public transport out to there.
I am referring to the Ovens Natural Park, a place with an unusual name, an even more unusual story and some wonderful scenery. Let me tell you about the strange story first.
On 13th June, 1861 gold was discovered here leading to a typical 19th century goldrush. In the next six months the site yielded $120,000 in gold, a phenomenal sum in those days and a complete community of about 1,000 people sprung up with facilities that even included a bank!
The gold ran out and within six years the place was abandoned with nothing left of the buildings now. Should the visitor wish to try their hand, it is possible to rent gold pans and have a go yourself. Whilst you might not make your fortune gold-panning, there are other things to do here now like kayaking along the stunning coastline and it is this scenery that really attracts most visitors.
There are 190 acres to explore and it looks absolutely gorgeous. You can go down to the caves (the Ovens) and even go inside some of them but, unfortunately the day we visited my back was playing up (I have had spinal problems for years) and it was not up to scrambling over rocks etc. I had to content myself with a slow hobble down to the cliff edge to take a few photos before having to cry off injured. This was a shame as I had really been looking forward to it. I hope the images will give some indication of what the visitor may expect.
There is a restaurant, shop and small museum onsite and I really do hope I can return some day and go for a proper climb about.”
OK, we’re done round here so let’s get back on the good old Lighthouse Route and see where it leads us.
Where it led us was past some beautiful scenery (is there anything else in NS?) and a mere seven miles to Mahone Bay which is a charming little community. It has a history much similar to that of Lunenburg, which is hardly surprising.
Originally a Miq’maq indigenous homeland, it was settled by Europeans, the French, in the 17th century. With the Great Expulsion” of the Acadians it was then settled by mostly German Protestants, many of whom Anglicized their names as we have discussed and as the sign indicates. If you are wondering about the name, it is a corruption of mahonne, the French word for barge.
That is the potted history, so let me use my original notes to tell you how things started to unravel for us here.
I only meant to go there once!
“I realise the title of this page may seem a bit odd so let me explain. On a recent trip to the Maritime Provinces, my friend Lynne and I were nursing a very ancient campervan (RV) along and, whilst it was very cosy, it was prone to mechanical and electrical failure and thus it happened in Mahone Bay.
We had intended to head on along the road, having left a Lunenburg campground that morning but, lo and behold, when we went to move on the headlights had gone. We were compelled to drive back to where we started on sidelights through the gathering dusk (thankfully is was late June) and have another go next day so we could get it fixed.
I didn’t really find out very much about the place as we had only stopped for a drink in an excellent pub (see below) but I did find it to be extremely pretty and I got the impression that people drive out from Lunenburg to spend some time here.
If you do go there, especially around the 27th of June you might want to look out over the Bay and see if you can spot the “Teazer Light”. This is a paranormal phenomenon whereby either a glow or the apparition of a 19th century vessel on fire is seen. It is believed to be the ghost of an American privateer ship called the Young Teazer which was trapped by the British during the war in 1813 and was blown up by one of it’s officers resulting in great loss of life. You have been warned!
Apart from potentially ghostly happenings Mahone Bay is yet another one of those totally delightful little Nova Scotian coastal settlements which I grew to love rather a lot.”
As you have read, there was a pub involved, so no surprise there, let me tell you about it.
Fine pub with a fine view.
“As I alluded to above, we had only intended to stay for a short while here before hitting the road again and before mechanical failure (well, electrical actually) sent us scurrying back to Lunenburg.
What we did find in our very short time was an absolutely excellent pub with a view that any publican would break your arm for looking out, as it does, over the extremely picturesque bay with the small boats riding gently at anchor and the sun lowering. It is the sort of thing travel brochure editors drool over.
This is all well and good but if the pub isn’t up to scratch it is all for nothing really. Thankfully the Mug and Anchor is well up to the task and does not let down it’s stunning location in any way. Yes, I know it is not nearly as old as the décor would tend to suggest with a slightly “olde English” pub feel despite having only opened in 1989 although I have no idea how old the actual building may be.
It all appears to be on an upper level and regrettably I did not ask about accessibility, so I am afraid those with accessibilty requirements should contact the venue directly.
It wasn’t overly busy when we visited and so we parked up at the bar and started chatting to the bar staff. They appeared to be genuinely friendly and not in the obsequious “I want a big tip” way that some are all over the world, they genuinely seemed interested in where I was from (I do have a bit of an accent), where we had been locally, what we thought of the place etc.
I honestly felt like a regular in there which is exaclty what any licensed premises should be like. We wandered out onto the deck / verandah / patio or whatever you care to call it and the views are truly breathtaking.
We did not eat there although I had a quick look at the menu which seemed to be fairly extensive with all the local standards represented as well as the odd little “kicker”.
OK, no point in trying to press on, time to limp back to Lunenburg where the campground office was naturally shut so we just went back to our same spot, hooked the stricken Betsy up again and went to sleep.
Well, I did warn you it was going to be a long one but I hope you’ll agree there is so much to see in this incredible town that it deserves a write-up such as this.
If you want to discover if we ever mange to get out of “lovely Lunenburg”, if Betsy’s problems are terminal or even what I might cook then stay tuned and spread the word.