Common menu bar links

World Heritage: Canada

Nova Scotia

Partial view of the Old Town Lunenburg.
Painting by Bernard Pelletier.
© Parks Canada, Bernard Pelletier

Old Town Lunenburg, where all streets are straight and all corners square, is the best surviving example of a British colonial policy of creating new settlements by imposing a pre-designed "model town" plan on whatever tract of wilderness it was the King's pleasure to colonize. At least 21 North American settlements, from Cornwall and Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario to Savannah, Georgia, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, benefited from this policy. But none has survived in such pristine condition as the little south-coast Nova Scotia town of Lunenburg.

The settlement was created in June 1753 as a home for 1,453 mostly German-speaking Protestant German, Swiss and Montbéliardian French colonists. The townsite, true to then-current convention, consisted of seven north-south streets, 48 feet wide (with the exception of King Street, which is 80 feet), intersected at right angles by nine east-west streets, each 40 feet wide, creating blocks that were further divided into 14 lots of 40 by 60 feet each. Each family received one town lot. The London-based Board of Trade and Plantations developed the plans without regard to local topography, which is why Lunenburg’s streets are never less than straight but sometimes dizzyingly steep.

There are some 400 major buildings within the old town, 70 percent of them from the 18th and 19th centuries, almost all of them wood, and many colourfully painted.

More information

Town of Lunenburg Web site:
Explore Lunenburg - History and Architecture

World Heritage Centre Web site:
World Heritage - Old Town Lunenburg

More Images

Picture of Old Town Lunenburg
Old Town Lunenburg
© Parks Canada J.P. Jérôme
Picture of blacksmiths shop of Thomas Walters & Sons.
Thomas Walters & Sons, Blacksmiths
© Parks Canada, Chris Reardone
Picture of a typical house of the Old Town Lunenburg.
58 Hopson Street, Old Town
© Parks Canada, Chris Reardone
Picture of the shop where dories are still being built.
The Dory shop
© Parks Canada, Chris Reardone