Lively Lunenburg

Brightly coloured houses in Lunenburg

The small town of Lunenburg in coastal Nova Scotia is bright, colourful, lively and lovely. And of special value to the common heritage of humanity. The town was added to the World Heritage list in 1995 as the best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America. Or, as UNESCO puts it:

Lunenburg is a remarkably well-preserved town, and one which retains most of the qualities of the original British model colonial settlement, without losing its status as a fully functioning community in the modern world.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lunenburg waterfront

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

“Somewhere on the East Coast of Canada”

In the centre of Lunenburg, we discovered a memorial to Camp Norway, a Norwegian navy training field during World War II. In the northern spring of 1940, more than 100 ships were on their way home from whaling season in Antarctica. Meanwhile, war had broken out and rather than go home to German-occupied Norway right away, the whalers stopped in Nova Scotia where they received military training before setting off as gunners on Norwegian and allied ships. Everything was top secret, and Lunenburg was never mentioned publicly, just referred to as “somewhere on the East Coast of Canada”.

Norwegian World War II memorial, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

We drove into Lunenburg late one evening after having crossed the Bay of Fundy from New Brunswick, then gone through the slightly mysterious Kejimkujik National Park. Stopping on impulse, we found an inn, rang the door bell at 10 pm and was given a beautiful, split level suite at a reasonable price. That’s the kind of place this is.

Next morning, we discovered we had wonderful harbour views to boot.

Lunenburg harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada

We really liked Lunenburg. There were horse-drawn carriages even. Can’t go wrong with girls and horses, can you….

Lunenburg harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada

Atlantic Canada, we’ll be back.


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Old Town Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.


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  1. Denise 31 May 2012 at 0132 - Reply

    I always feel that most places lack colour, so this place looks really fun and pretty!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2255 - Reply

      True, too much drab in the world.

  2. Krista 31 May 2012 at 0211 - Reply

    I was just in Lunenburg myself – a small town with a lot to do, see, eat, and drink!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2256 - Reply

      …and surprises around every corner.

  3. Lisa 31 May 2012 at 0252 - Reply

    We visited Lunenburg on a day trip from Halifax and loved it! The horse and carriage ride was a big hit with my girls as well! Was the Bluenose schooner in the harbour when you visited?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2258 - Reply

      She was there, the beauty. But the sails weren’t up.

  4. Linda 31 May 2012 at 0313 - Reply

    Some years back, on the Travel Channel there was a program called Tall Ship Chronicles, which anyone with wanderlust would love. Paying to work on a tall ship as it sails around the world! The ship’s home port was Lunenburg, and I’ve been longing to go there ever since! Now you made me want to go even more!!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2304 - Reply

      Thanks. And a very cool idea working on a sail ship. A few Norwegian tall ships offers that as well, the Christan Radich of Oslo among them. You can join up to sail a certain leg of the yearly tall ships races. Would be such fun.

  5. Jenna 31 May 2012 at 0437 - Reply

    The colors seem to add so much to this town! The part about the Norwegians is interesting–I wonder if some of them just stayed there…?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2305 - Reply

      I looked into that and it appears some of them might have. At least, a few are buried in Lunenburg and another few in Halifax.

  6. Leigh 31 May 2012 at 0618 - Reply

    I’ve lived in Nova Scotia on two different occasions – and both times Lunenburg was one of my favourite places to visit. In fact that’s were my husband and I had many a great meal in our dating phase. We both worked as geologists in Nova Scotia and had a pretty sweet deal – vehicles at our disposal and money given to us for meals.Nothing but good memories from Lunenburg.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2306 - Reply

      How wonderful to have such happy memories of a very special town 🙂

  7. ItalianNotes 31 May 2012 at 1057 - Reply

    Looks like a nice place, although the house colours seem so bright I’d have to wear shades in winter

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2307 - Reply

      Reminds me a little bit of some of the islands in Venice lagoon, though the colours there are perhaps a few shades softer…

  8. InsideJourneys 31 May 2012 at 1343 - Reply

    Maybe it’s the color that fooled me but I’d never have pegged this as a ‘planned British colonial settlement.” It’s really picturesque, and the residents are warm and accommodating. Nice find, Sophie!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2308 - Reply

      No, it seems like it should be Italian or something, rather than British.

  9. Sabrina 31 May 2012 at 1432 - Reply

    What a place! Makes you feel transported back in time, doesn’t it? Love the colorful houses.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2309 - Reply

      You’re right – I did get a sense of being in the early 1900s there.

  10. Ana (Ana Travels) 31 May 2012 at 1437 - Reply

    I absolutely adored this place (or your photos, at any rate). Nova Scotia is definitely on my list, thanks for sharing a part of it.

    BTW, reading about the whaling season in Antarctica reminded me of a photo of my paternal grandfather standing in front of a whale cut in half on board a whaling ship, in the 1940s, I think. He worked as an electrician on board the ship.

    • Ana (Ana Travels) 31 May 2012 at 1440 - Reply

      It wasn’t a whaling ship, I was wrong. Anyway, it sailed under the Argentinean flag but the crew was Norwegian 🙂

      • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2312 - Reply

        That’s very interesting, Ana. Your grandfather was Argentinian, no? And worked with Norwegian sailors on a Norwegian (?) ship sailing under the Argentine flag? Would love to hear the story there.

        • Ana (Ana Travels) 3 June 2012 at 1807 - Reply

          I called him after posting my comment to check the facts. He’s Argentinean and worked in the Merchant Navy as an electrician. He said the crew was Norwegian, or most of the crew, at any rate, and the ship’s flag was Argentinean.

  11. Jackie Smith 31 May 2012 at 1635 - Reply

    What a fabulous find. Love the colors. This goes on the travel bucket list, for sure!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2312 - Reply

      Fabulous, colourful place, indeed.

  12. Cathy Sweeney 31 May 2012 at 1954 - Reply

    Wow! Those colorful buildings really jumped out at me. What a cool town. The memorial to Camp Norway is very interesting, too.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2313 - Reply

      Atlantic Canada is full of cool places.

  13. jade 31 May 2012 at 2001 - Reply

    Ah, love brightly colored houses. I always envisioned my future home being the super bright house at the end of the block! Maybe I should move to Atlantic Canada and I’d fit right in!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2315 - Reply

      You’d have a choice of brightly colours,too 🙂

  14. Wandergirl 31 May 2012 at 2004 - Reply

    I love Atlantic Canada! I think I was about 13 when my parents took me to Nova Scotia and I remember so clearly the colours of Lunenberg, the smell, and the amazing scallops I had. Have to go back!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 31 May 2012 at 2316 - Reply

      Oh yes, the scallops. And the lobster. Nom nom!

  15. Annelise 31 May 2012 at 2118 - Reply

    I love those coloured houses so much! I wish I could have the chance to live at a place like that. Amazing. And breathtaking. I’ve always wondered what kind of people could live in these cottages.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 June 2012 at 1333 - Reply

      I think many of them house shops, galleries and restaurants.

  16. Christy @ Technosyncratic 1 June 2012 at 0250 - Reply

    I know some people think brightly-colored houses are garish, but I so don’t agree. Okay, maybe bubble-gum pink. I’d love a purple or blue house, though!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 June 2012 at 1334 - Reply

      I like them, too. But I think I would probably prefer my own house to be just a bit more subdued.

  17. Michael Figueiredo 1 June 2012 at 0348 - Reply

    What a charming town! I’d love to visit Lunenburg. I love all of the colors. 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 June 2012 at 1334 - Reply


  18. Dick Jordan 1 June 2012 at 0544 - Reply

    What a vibrant palette of house paints!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 June 2012 at 1335 - Reply

      Well said.

  19. Laurel 1 June 2012 at 1203 - Reply

    I’m Canadian and I’ve never heard of Lunenburg, but it looks very charming – the kind of place I like.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 June 2012 at 1336 - Reply

      Goes to show how absolutely huge Canada is 🙂

  20. Bob R 1 June 2012 at 1302 - Reply

    Any idea how the whalers turned gunners fared?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 June 2012 at 1353 - Reply

      Apparently, of the Norwegian sailors who left Nova Scotia, many never came to land again. Some were recovered from the sea and buried in Nova Scotia, others died in Lunenburg or Halifax. There are about 30 Norwegian war graves in the province, so not very many, but it’s an interesting bit of Norwegian – Canadian shared war time history.

      • Bob R 1 June 2012 at 1512 - Reply

        Thanks. Yes it is a very interesting historical footnote. Somewhere in the history of those 100 or so whaling ships is a very good novel or screenplay. Or non-fiction reportage a la Perfect Storm.

  21. I Love the colors of all the homes & buildings – just like I would picture an Atlantic Coastal town. So pretty!

    Thanks for linking up this week! Have a super weekend!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 at 0120 - Reply

      Of course 🙂 And you too.

  22. Lisa 1 June 2012 at 1732 - Reply

    Sophie, I love the quaint feel of the town, that view from your inn was quite sweet. I enjoyed New Brunswick and Grand Manan, but haven’t experienced anything else up that way.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 at 0121 - Reply

      New Brunswick was nice, too. We liked Shediac and the Big Lobster.

  23. Steve 1 June 2012 at 2134 - Reply

    Should they really be letting the horse eat the mail?
    Very cute town. I’d guess there’s some good fish n’ chips to be found here somewhere.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 at 0124 - Reply

      There was an old-fashioned American diner – very quaint, a big hit with my kids. But can’t remember any chip shops. There was a tea place, though.

  24. Nancie 1 June 2012 at 2305 - Reply

    I know Lunenburg well, and your shots are gorgeous. My parents grew up in a village “just up the road”. When I was a kid we would go and visit, and of course, no modern highway (not that the highway is that great even today!)…and my favorite part of the trip was going up “Wake Up Hill”, not far from Lunenburg.

    The Bluenose schooner is the ship you see on the Canadian dime. I believe she is being rebuilt at the moment.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 at 0125 - Reply

      On money, eh? Important national landmark, then.

  25. Ruth (Tanama Tales) 2 June 2012 at 0207 - Reply

    The colors are amazing. This is the type of places I love to visit. History is in every corner.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 at 1345 - Reply

      You certainly get plenty of colours and history in Lunenburg 🙂

  26. Sonja 2 June 2012 at 0211 - Reply

    I want the green house.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 at 1343 - Reply

      I think I would go for the blue one, myself 🙂

  27. Jeremy Branham 2 June 2012 at 0251 - Reply

    Great story on Lunenburg. A unheard of story from WWII. Looks like a beautiful town as well with fantastic colors! I admit I don’t know much about the east coast of Canada but I never would have expected this place to play a role in WWII.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 at 1346 - Reply

      I had no idea it did, either. Made the town even more interesting.

  28. I love these pictures and learning about a charming town in Atlantic Canada. These are such vibrant colors on the houses they reminded me of Burano island in Italy. You definitely can’t get lost looking for that bright green building. We would love to explore that part of Canada soon.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 at 1344 - Reply

      You’re right, it does remind one of Burano a little.

  29. Christina (Jandal Road) 4 June 2012 at 2234 - Reply

    Very cool place. This side of Canada is a place I have yet to discover. The colourful houses look so inviting!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 25 June 2012 at 1319 - Reply

      I’m the opposite; only know Eastern Canada 🙂

  30. Andrea 5 June 2012 at 0749 - Reply

    So colourful! It’s kind of reminding me of Stavanger

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 25 June 2012 at 1320 - Reply

      It does a little, I know the area of Stavanger you mean.

  31. Ayngelina 6 June 2012 at 0723 - Reply

    In Toronto I told someone I was from Nova Scotia and they said “oh where they have all the different colour houses” and I realized in Ontario everything was beige – so I guess yes we are the province with the houses of different colours.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 25 June 2012 at 1324 - Reply

      In some areas in Northern Norway, houses are painted in very bright, even unusual, colours. I’ve been told that since the weather is so harsh they have to repaint often and it’s easier to experiment with colours more. If you don’t like it, you have to do it over again next year anyway. Maybe the same is true for Nova Scotia…

  32. Joe 9 June 2012 at 1713 - Reply

    My, what a lovely place. And so colourful, like out of a story book.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 25 June 2012 at 1331 - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Joe.

  33. Cute! I love the little towns on the east coast!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 25 June 2012 at 1334 - Reply

      Very cute 🙂

  34. Love the bright colored buildings. They make the town seem very cheery.

  35. nomadic translator 7 November 2012 at 1947 - Reply

    how colorful! I wonder how one would get to Nova Scotia… Sounds like it could be expensive. Do you happen to know if flights from big cities in Canada, such as Montréal and Toronto, a reasonable?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 November 2012 at 2141 - Reply

      We flew from Europe – and Icelandair had very reasonable flights via Reykjavik. I’m afraid I don’t know much about prices internally in Canada; I remember a friend of mine flew Toronto – Halifax with WestJet for 99 CAD, but that’s almost two years ago. More interestingly, I think there’s an overnight train going from Montreal to Halifax. Would be an interesting journey, I’m sure.

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