I can hear the sound of the horse’s hoofs hitting the pavement of Old Lunenburg. I am riding on an old-fashioned horse and buggy, my guide is even donning a top hat as we trot along the quaint historic streets of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My enthusiastic guide from Trot in Time, located on the Lunenburg waterfront, is filled with a wealth of knowledge. I learn that many of the homes and buildings along the streets are painted in bright colours from yellow, green, blue and even red, reflective of what it would have been like in the 1800s when “captains of the sea” would paint their homes the colour of their fishing boats.
Steeped in History
Lunenburg was once a thriving fishing and ship building town, famous for building the much-revered Bluenose, the iconic Schooner which is a famous symbol of Nova Scotia. It was built for fishing and racing, setting sail on the Lunenburg harbour in 1921. It raced to undefeated glory for seventeen years. In fact the seafaring history is so strong that you can even find a compass shaped memorial on the waterfront as a tribute to the many fisherman lost at sea.
Exploring Lunenburg is like truly stepping back in time for an afternoon, while you watch the ships in the harbour sway to and fro with the coastal breeze blowing at the sails. I had my camera handy at every turn as the sunlight danced along the sea, lighting up the buildings and streets, allowing me to play photographer for the afternoon. When in Lunenburg there are some must sees and tastes.
Lunenburg Seafood Lunch
Arrive in Lunenburg at lunch time and head right over to the Grand Banker for an order of – dare I say it – thee best fish & chips. Grab a seat overlooking the Harbour if you can and indulge in the Hell Bay Fish & Chips, named after a local brew. The fresh, and I mean fresh, Atlantic haddock is lightly dipped in an English Ale beer batter resulting in crispy perfection.
Visit the Fisheries Museum
The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is fittingly located on Blue Nose Drive, along the Lunenburg Harbour. You can’t miss the distinctive red building that houses the museum, which includes a small aquarium, numerous artifacts and a touch tank allowing you to be a part of the sea.
Throughout the museum you will find exhibits showcasing the history of the fishing industry, like the new “First Fishers” exhibit. One of the highlights of the museum is the fully immersive fleet of vessels that line the waterfront. Hop on board the Cape Sable, built in 1962, and discover what life would have been like at sea. Several of the staff at the Fisheries Museum are retired sea captains and fisherman, who are happy to share some of their sea-inspired stories with you.
Sweet Tooth Calling
Sweet Treasures Confectionery serves up homemade ice cream to satisfy any sweet tooth craving. Made on site, they offer a plethora of flavours. Try the strawberry on a homemade waffle cone homemade or the classic vanilla. They also make the most amazing fudge; nibble at the cookies & cream or the peanut butter and chocolate swirl.
On to Picturesque Mahone Bay
Take your time to stroll in and out of the lovely shops and art galleries that line Lunenburg’s streets before making your way to Mahone Bay, in Lunenburg county. The short drive along the picturesque lighthouse route leads you to this lovely town surrounded by a small harbour and three distinct churches, which are often depicted in postcards. The whole area has a strong German and Swiss history and at one time it was known for its thriving wooden boat building industry.
Dinner You Won’t Soon Forget
Mateus Bistro is on Mahone Bay’s main street and boasts a large outdoor patio, but it’s inside where the culinary magic happens. Chef Matthew Krizan has a love for all things local, and it’s evident in the menu. What Krizan has cultivated at Mateus doesn’t feel like a restaurant, but rather dinner at a friend’s, whose cooking expertise happens to be top notch! There is no pretension here, just good food and great service. Slowly savour a bowl of the creamy seafood chowder, with local haddock and mussels floating in a creamy broth. Leave room for “Dem Bread Sticks”! Dip the grilled french bread into a melted mix of asiago, blue and parmigiano cheese served in a small pot.
Finally, the creme de la crème – beef tenderloin like no other. Hand cut beef topped with truffle butter, served with delicious spaghetti squash and lemoned potatoes. Wash it all down with a Pink Dory, a popular imbibe on the menu filled with Blomidon Rose Wine, rhubarb syrup and Australian bubbly to give it the perfect fizz.