Lunenburg: Maritime History Comes Alive!

I adore experiencing some of my favourite childhood memories all over again with my own little people and seeing the wonder in their eyes.  With Lunenburg being a UNESCO World Heritage Site this means that everything is carefully preserved, authentic and is quite similar to what it was the very first time I was there.

We planned our trip around the times for the Fisheries Museum and the Bluenose II.

The Fisheries Museum is a super kid friendly museum.  I had previously purchased a museum season pass so my entry was covered and my little people were young enough to be free.  Yay!  The first stop was the aquarium room.  After about an hour here I almost had to drag Isaac out to see the rest of the museum.  There are all kinds of sea life to see including lobster, halibut, flounder, cod, Isaac’s favourite, the skate fish and sculpin.  My uncle says that sculpin are all of the proof we need to know that dinosaurs existed. The wolf fish was another one that looks like it swam right out of a horror movie.  I was relieved to learn that it is was one the deep sea dwellers so it won’t be brushing up against my leg at the beach.  There are fun fish facts all over and an interactive, touch screen display to explore.

The next room housed that tidal touch tank which was a hit with every visitor.  There are sea creatures in there that can tolerate being touched like crabs, lobster, starfish, scallops and clams along with sea plants and an anemone.  The water is piped in straight from the harbour so the creatures have the nutrients required and the temperature is just right.  The woman working at the tank was so great with all of the kids there and had answers to all of their questions.  Isaac will never forget that lobsters eat “anything they can get their claws on  – even EACH OTHER!”.  In the corner of this room there is a little play and learn area for the little ones that my daughter really enjoyed.  She was not putting her hand in the touch tank.  Not no way.  Not no how.

On second floor we found the “Days of Sail” and “Grand Banks” exhibits which showcase the history of the Grand Banks fishery and the evolution of the fishing industry through incredible model schooners and dories.  We all enjoyed this.  We learned all of the parts of a schooner.  There is a fabric cod fish that the kids can take apart and try to put back together and a spot in the corner to “catch a cod”.  Many of the displays are housed in glass and the employee working that floor said not to worry at all about fingerprints and to let them touch everything and learn.

The third floor includes a very well put together exhibit on the history of the Bluenose complete with stories, artifacts and a ship’s wheel. It really is an amazing story.  I was more interested in this than the kids but the wheel kept them occupied while I explored.  I also really enjoyed the stories on the rum running exhibit.  So dangerous, but so exciting at the same time.

Before we left home I created a small scavenger hunt for Isaac to help him remember some of the information that we were going to learn.

We then ventured out onto the boardwalk and made or way to the Theresa E. Connor which is a schooner that visitors to the museum can board and tour around.  Isaac loved this and learned quite a bit about the life of those sailors.  From the tiny bunks for sleeping to how they stored the fish, he was interested in every aspect of it.  There is a dory on deck as well.  Ever since our Dory Day he’s been very excited whenever we spot a dory and tells me everything he can remember.

We disembarked the Theresa E. Connor and made our merry little way over to the world famous Bluenose II.  This was one of the memories that I was  most excited to relive with my kids.  Isaac had a dime in his pocket that he had been inspecting and was pretty excited to be seeing the real thing.  We crossed the gangway and were on board.  We were able to tour around the decks, touch everything from the dory, to the sails and masts, and most importantly to the kids…the wheel.  From what we’d learned at the museum, Isaac was able to correctly identify many parts of the schooner.   In typical kid fashion Isaac was super excited to see the…power washer on deck.  They do harbour tours which I can only imagine would be spectacular, but I’m not sure whether or not they are kid-friendly.  That’s something to add to my bucket list.

After the Bluenose we trekked up and down the hills of Lunenburg.  Wear your comfortable shoes folks because the hills are steep.  The colours of Lunenburg are bright, cheerful and made me regret choosing dull coloured siding for our house when we could have chosen bright blue, red, green or fuschia.   Our next house may look like a gingerbread house, that will certainly stick out in Southern Ontario but it sure will bring joy.

We stopped at one of the restaurants and grabbed a slice of pizza that was bigger than Isaac’s head and some Farmer’s Ice Cream.  Delicious.

There are a couple of play parks around to enjoy, have a picnic and burn some energy.

One place we unfortunately ran out of time for is the train museum.  A friend of mine and her family were able to get there in the spring and her boys loved it.  So much lego and the man running it was a wealth of information about all things trains.

Before heading home we went for a drive to Blue Rocks.  It’s just past Lunenburg and looks like a painting.  In fact, many painters have felt inspired to pick up a brush a paint this very spot.  It was just the perfect, peaceful spot to relax for a few minutes after our busy day and have a snack before heading out.

The Bluenose II is sailing around to different ports until the end of September.  It actually took us two trips to be able to board as the first time they were doing maintenance in preparation for a sail to Sydney.  I’d definitely recommend contacting them to ensure that you will be able to board and avoid disappointment.

There is parking beside the museum on the harbour.  The parking fee is $4.00 cash to be paid on exit.  We were able to get change in the museum.  This is the best place to park  as it is central to everything.  There is also street parking available and other lots slightly further away.

There are several places to stay with beautiful views.  I’m not sure about taking little kids to them though. If I were staying overnight with my small people I would look in nearby Bridgewater.  There are many mouthwatering restaurants in Lunenburg from 5 star dining to casual cafes.  Whatever you are hungry for you are bound to find it.

Lunenburg brought maritime history to life for us.  Isaac learned so much, from the adventurous and often dangerous life of sailors to the mysterious creatures that lurk in the deep blue sea.  This was another unforgettable summer learning opportunity for us and will hopefully become an annual adventure for our little family.

On the Bluenose myself as a little gaffer and a couple decades later with my own small people.


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