When we first started thinking about making our way into Eastern Canada, we had one place in mind: Lunenburg. The entire downtown area of this small Nova Scotia town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, its waterfront is one of the most recognizable of any in the Maritimes, and its pedestrian friendly neighborhoods exude charm. Additionally, there’s an RV campground located right next to the downtown area, making everything so much more convenient (Read: day drinking!!) We had high hopes this stop would be a memorable one filled with the kinds of experiences we really love (mostly day drinking). Happily, Lunenburg did not disappoint. It was one of our favorite Canadian destinations.
One of the things we really liked was that this dock is still a working waterfront. While the town is undoubtedly touristy, there is an air of authenticity that surrounds the port. This was even more noticeable when we visited the famous fishing village of Peggy’s Cove later in the week. That community was so pristine, it seemed like a Hollywood set. Lunenburg just felt a bit more real.
Further lending a sense of authenticity was this large memorial commemorating the many local fishermen who have perished at sea since 1890. Two things jumped out as we examined the memorial: the large numbers of men with the same last names that died at the same time, presumably family members working on the same boats; and the continued danger fishermen face today. While, thankfully, the numbers have vastly decreased, there are still deadly incidents and accidents. The most recent year represented on the memorial was 2014.
Of course, there were plenty of boats docked in Lunenburg that were less about “work” and more about “play”…
However, our favorite boats were the PIRATE SHIPS!!!
There were several of these docked while we were there and every time I saw one, I had a Jack Sparrow moment. They’re just SO COOL!
The most famous of the ships docked in Lunenburg during our visit was the Blue Nose II which is a replica of a famous racing and fishing schooner that was lost in 1946. The replica is considered the “sailing ambassador” of Nova Scotia.
One night we noticed the decks were open to visitors so we got on board to have a look around. It is a gorgeous ship.
Because we were quickly approaching the end of our time on the Atlantic coast and we hadn’t actually spent any time out on the water, we decided to take a two hour cruise with a touring company. It was a slightly smaller boat than the Blue Nose.
As we headed out, our guide noted the Bluenose was out in the water for an event. He raced over as quickly as he could so we could see it with its sails up, but unfortunately, we were too far away for me to capture a good photo of it. Just imagine a pirate ship….
Lucky for us though, as it was motoring back to port, it went right by us….
The remainder of our time on the sailboat was spent attempting to capture the beautiful Lunenburg waterfront…
and enjoying a calm night on the Atlantic while watching the sun set.
When not sitting on the dock of the bay wasting time, we were wandering around the town itself. Lunenburg reminded us quite a bit of Saint Andrews in that it was within walking distance of our campground, it offered lots of picturesque waterfront scenery, and the homes in the neighborhoods were full of character. Indeed, there are no boring houses in Lunenburg….
Hell, there are no boring doors in Lunenburg….
In addition to the colorful houses, the shops were all independent (no Starbucks here…), there were tons of interesting art galleries, and the streets were full of horse drawn carriages…
What Lunenburg had that Saint Andrews fell short on was a long list of bars and restaurants to while away the day. Several, like The Salt Shaker Deli, The South Shore Fish Shack, and The Grand Banker had great views from their decks, from which we enjoyed various seafood goodness.
Other Lunenburg restaurants felt nothing like that and, therefore, were also winners for us.
The thing was, Lunenburg was our last stop in Canada. And after five weeks in coastal Canada and three weeks in coastal Maine, we were getting pretty burned out on seafood. Additionally, one night it was chilly and rainy. Know what’s good when it’s chilly and rainy and you’re tired of seafood?
Yup, there’s a real deal German restaurant in Lunenburg called the Old Black Forest Cafe. It’s about three miles from the downtown area, a tiny little restaurant with absolutely delicious food.
We also discovered this place – The Knot Pub. It’s more of a locals bar, set away from the main tourist area. We pretty much loved it because it looked like a hangout for hobbits.
The Swiss Air 111 Memorials
One of the things I wanted to see when we were in Nova Scotia was the memorial to the victims of the Swissair Flight 111 crash that occurred in 1998. What I didn’t realize was there are actually two memorials. It was only when we pulled up to the first memorial, and it looked nothing like the pictures I’d seen online, that we realized there were two different ones. Turns out, after the crash, members of the communities of Peggy’s Cove and Bayswater assisted local authorities with the recovery mission. Both towns have memorials.
The memorial at Bayswater lists the names of those who died and is the final resting place of many of the victims. This is the much less visited memorial and one I didn’t know existed until we were standing there.
The memorial in Peggy’s Cove is the one you’ll see photographed more often. It is in an incredibly beautiful location with views of the coastline and the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove.
Peggy’s Cove is a tiny picturesque fishing village built next to a lighthouse, and it is spectacular. So spectacular, it kinda felt like we were walking through a movie set. You could imagine the camera panning over the village as the narrator talks about life in this “quiet coastal town….” Everything is beautiful and clean and pristine and perfect. It makes you wonder whether anyone actually lives in the houses or if they are just set pieces. It reminded me a lot of my visit to Seaside, Florida. Whatever the case may be, it was stunningly beautiful and our timing, right before sunset, could not have been better for taking it all in.
The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove is the main draw here for good reason. The structure itself, its location on the rocks, and the way the last sunlight of the day illuminates it all combine to create a mesmerizing picture. It’s like stepping into a painting.
We were also awed by the incredible surf that surrounds the village. I’m not sure if it’s always like this but when we were there, the waves were massive and relentless.
Finally, we noticed that while the lighthouse itself was consistently very busy, simply turning away from it and looking down the coastline provided views just as impressive.
Not a bad view. Not a bad view at all.
Phew…. You still here? That was a LONG post. Sorry bout that. I’m in catch-up mode and I figured it’s about time to wrap up the Canada posts. I plan to eventually write an article about the mechanics of RV travel to Canada (border crossings, internet access, etc.), but that will be a couple weeks down the line when we slow down and I have some time to focus on it.
For right now, we are quickly making our way west across New York State on our way to Chicago for the Chicago Marathon. We’ll be there to support our sister-in-law (Hi Jen!) as she competes in her 21st (!) marathon. Between now and then, I’ll be acting as trip chaperone to ensure my Penn State husband stays on his best behavior as we drive across Ohio (If he disappears for more than ten minutes, I’ll assume he’s covering some state landmark in toilet paper). Once the marathon is over, we’ll point Barney due south and start making our way toward toastier temps.
Thanks for reading!
Where we stayed: Lunenburg Board of Trade Campground