Small town escapes: Lunenburg, NS
The British colonials who laid out Lunenburg’s street plan on a steep seaside hill in 1753 can be forgiven for an overemphasis on right angles. They were probably just trying to impose a semblance of order on the surrounding south shore of Nova Scotia, a jumble of islands, coves, peninsulas and bays. The grid-like street pattern seems quaintly compact by today’s standards, but it has remained intact, a fact partially responsible for Lunenburg being only the second urban area in North America to be named a UNESCO world heritage site. Don’t let the fact that it is probably the best surviving example of a colonial town in North America fool you into thinking it’s a community that’s stuck in the past, though. It remains a thriving and richly authentic town, not just a picture-perfect playground for tourists and the rich and famous. The shipbuilding industry has faded some since the 1920s when the Bluenose was built, but the Highliner fish-processing plant still employs 300 people on the waterfront and new high-tech industries like aerospace carbon-fibre manufacturers and video game makers have moved in uptown without diminishing the town’s colonial charm.
Diving: Lunenburg Marine Park became the most popular scuba site in Eastern Canada when the Navy Destroyer HMCS Saguenay was scuttled in 1994 and came to rest on a clear sandy bottom in 100 feet of water.
Surfing: There are a half a dozen beach and point breaks between Lunenburg and Liverpool, including Broad Cove, Cherry Hill and Cross Island.
Sea kayaking: When the surf is good the sea kayaking can be too, thanks to the barrier of shoals and islands that shroud Blue Rocks at the end of the Lunenburg Peninsula. Choose your destination depending on how rough you want it.
Playboating: About 30 kilometres up the Medway River, the Perfect Wave at Bangs Falls is the site of an annual rodeo for a committed band of Nova Scotians.
Canoeing: Sixty-five kilometres away, Kejimkujik Provincial Park is a perfect getaway for lake-hopping and tripping on rivers like the Shelburne.
About town: If you’re thinking of moving to Lunenburg, you should probably like seafood, or at least not hate it. In addition to every conceivable type of fish restaurant, the town also offers a variety of culinary choices—everything from The Knot Pub, which looks like a Hobbit house from the outside, to the award-winning Fleur de Sel, which serves traditional French cuisine. There’s also the Magnolia Grill, a small but popular—Tom Selleck’s been spotted here!—hangout that offers a mix of Cajun/Nova Scotian fare. Summertime in Lunenburg means festivals: The Annual Lunenburg Festival of Crafts, the Annual Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, The International Dory Races…
Other factoids » The Bounty featured in the Brando version of Mutiny on the Bounty was built here » the films Two If By Sea, Dolores Claiborne and Simon Birch were filmed here » home to Canada’s oldest Presbyterian and Lutheran churches