Looking for a lot of east coast in one small package? Put Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on the top of your list. It’s a destination that oozes maritime charm, hospitality and history. In Lunenburg you can visit the Fisheries Museum and hop aboard towering tall ships and famous sailboats. You can stroll the historic streets while browsing eclectic art galleries. Eat fresh seafood hauled off the boat that day. It’s the quintessential Maritime experience.
The Lunenburg Expedition Begins
My whirlwind, food-filled visit to Lunenburg had me staying at restaurant/hotel combo, The Grand Banker Bar & Grill and Brigantine Inn. It’s a quick, no-fuss check in at the bar and you’re off to one of the rooms upstairs.
My room, “the Bluenose”, had a bay window facing Lunenburg’s famously picturesque harbour, which was bustling with boats and tourists. The Grand Banker is easily spotted in downtown Lunenburg; just look for its bright teal paint job and restaurant windows facing the water.
For a small community, Lunenburg has a generous collection of stellar eateries to choose from. To some degree, it is still a very seasonal destination, but with more and more restaurants now choosing to stay open year-round, local residents are definitely not missing out on high quality culinary options.
Lunch at The Salt Shaker Deli is an absolute must. Grab a seat on the patio for ocean views, even if that means waiting a few extra minutes (which is what I did). The thin crust pizza is a thing of beauty. I went with the prosciutto and pear with balsamic reduction – the perfect thing to eat outside on a bright and warm autumn day.
Before dinner that evening, a stop at Rime Restaurant was in order, for oysters and drinks. Perched at the bar I enjoyed Nova Scotian oysters and the locally produced sparkling rosé Benjamin Bridge Nova 7. It’s a wine known for pairing perfectly with all things from the sea.
After that it was on to The Grand Banker. Seated by the window once again, I enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the harbour, this time after dark. The menu here is large, and punctuated with offerings of local seafood, like Adams & Knickle scallops. They are literally get dragged off the boat just down the road. Other local products, like the Terra Beata cranberries that adorn the house salad, and burgers made of Nova Scotia beef help to make this pub-like menu more regional.
The next morning I awoke to another warm and sunny fall day in Lunenburg, mild enough to enjoy a breakfast alfresco, just a few doors down at the Savvy Sailor. Friendly service, hot coffee and a simple but made-from-scratch menu made for the perfect leisurely meal by the water. My breakfast — a frittata with goat cheese, cherry tomatoes and red onion — was served on locally made, organic seven-grain toast.
A Sea of Cranberries
After breakfast I left Lunenburg on a ten-minute drive to Terra Beata Cranberry Farm. The route followed a couple of lesser-traveled roads, which were lined by trees just starting to turn the vivid colours of a Nova Scotia autumn.
At the farm and processing plant I met the owner Evelyn Ernst; she and her husband David have owned and operated Terra Beata for 18 years. Evelyn gave a tour of the facility and even let me walk into the cranberry field to pick a couple fresh berries to try. Tours here are open to anyone, are free, and are not on a set schedule. If you show up between 8 A.M. and 4 P.M., Monday to Friday, and ring the bell, someone will probably be there to show you around. Tours are available year-round.
Terra Beata has 15 acres of cranberries, which grow in a fashion similar to low bush blueberries. There are a few select days for harvesting cranberries, usually in November, and that’s the only time when the bogs are flooded, creating a shiny, vibrant red surface (the thing most tourists are hoping to see). “People have the idea when they come that they’re going to see things floating in water. Ecologically this is a bog, because it’s peat soil and it still functions as a wetland. But it’s not flooded year round,” explains Evelyn.
This year, the Ernsts harvested 200,000 pounds of cranberries. Check their Facebook page for the harvest announcements next season. “The best time to tour is in October,” says Evelyn, “because you get to see the red berries on the plants and you can pick your own and take some home with you!”