Boxwood Festivals
Boxwood Canada

Lunenburg & The South Shore

BOXWOOD CANADA 2015

Boxwood takes place in one of Atlantic Canada's most beautiful and historically significant towns.

  • Lunenburg is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Learn more about the Town of Lunenburg by visiting their website.
  • Nova Scotia's South Shore was recently listed as among the top 10 coastal destinations in the world by National Geographic magazine. Discover the surrounding areas of Nova Scotia's South Shore here.

History of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Established in 1753, Lunenburg was named in honour of the Duke of Braunschweig-Luneburg, King of England in 1727. Lunenburg was the first British colonial settlement in Nova Scotia outside of Halifax and was a deliberate attempt at civilian colonization of what, until that time, had been a native, Acadian territory.

The settlement was overseen by British military forces under the direction of Colonel Charles Lawrence. The settlers, recruited from southern and central Germany, Switzerland, and the Montbeliard region of France, were deliberately chosen for their potential loyalty to the British Crown. The promise of free land and the New World was all the persuasion needed to lure them on such an unpredictable journey. And, after safely arriving, they were quickly granted town lots, eastern garden lots and anywhere from 30 to 300 acre farm lots in the hinterlands.

The town itself was sited on a neck of land between the front and back harbours and was laid out in a rectangular grid pattern on the steep hillsides, facing south. The area within this planned grid came to be known as the "Old Town." Over its first 100 years the town grew steadily, becoming the focus of a bustling economy based on farming, fishing, shipbuilding and ocean based commerce.

By the mid-19th century, the town had outgrown its old boundaries and in 1862 parts of the surrounding Common Land were subdivided to facilitate expansion. Areas immediately to the east and west of the Old Town were sectioned for building lots and larger parcels while an area further west beyond the head of Lunenburg harbour was subdivided to create "New Town." The "New Town" area quickly became fashionable and impressive new houses were built there by wealthy merchants and professionals.

The expansion of the fishing industry continued well into the 20th century and a host of associated businesses flourished along Lunenburg’s waterfront. The 1920’s and 30’s—dubbed the Bluenose Era—saw a flurry of activity as the harbour welcomed all ranks of masts and sails, including those of the famous schooner, Bluenose. In the 1940’s the schooner-based salt fishery declined in favour of the modern trawler, frozen, and processed fish production. Ship repairing and outfitting became primary activities during the Second World War and by the 1950’s Lunenburg was a mature fishing port with thriving labor and commercial sectors and a thrifty, industrious community.

It was because of diligence, hard work, competence, and endurance that the early settlers were able to survive. Coming to this new land gave them hope for peace and freedom. They brought the traits and traditions that enabled the people of Lunenburg not only to survive and prosper, but also to make their town one of the best known in all of Canada. In fact, Old Town Lunenburg was designated as a National Historic District by the Federal goverment in 1992 in recognition of the Town’s rich heritage. In 1995 an even greater honour was bestowed upon Lunenburg when ‘Old Town’ Lunenburg was added to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage List. It is the second urban community in Continental North America to be included on this list (the other is old Quebec City). The list, established by the World Heritage Committee, includes over 470 cultural and natural sites of outstanding universal value.