The first visual representations of Lunenburg which can be dated and ascribed are probably Henry Pooley's two watercolours, done in 1816. The following year, a professional landscape painter named John Elliott Woolford accompanied the newly-appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, George Ramsey, 9th Earl of Dalhousie, on a formal tour of the province. 'On the South Settlement near Lunenburgh' and 'Distant view of Lunenburgh', both dated 23 July 1817, nicely capture a small, neat community perched on the edge of the sea.
At the same time Lord Dalhousie recorded his own impressions of the community, noting in his diary for 24 July 1817 that "The fort saluted, & a Captain's Militia Guard attended, commanded by Major Ernst. At Col. Rudolf's we were visited by all the respectable people of the place...." The governor went on to observe that "All here is German, scarcely do they speak English intelligibly. Agriculture is their only pursuit, they are not wealthy, but live frugally, & are all comfortable, a singular circumstance that there never has yet been a Pauper, maintained by the Parish."
A few years later Captain William Moorsom, writing in his Letters from Nova Scotia, recorded another impression of Lunenburg and provided a little more detail: "On approaching Lunenburg the coast becomes indented in the most singular manner with inlets and coves, almost isolating the numerous peninsulas that rise in small hills between them. The town of Lunenburg is situated at the innermost extremity of a peninsula of this description."
Moorsom also noted that the town had 1100 residents, almost 130 dwellings and additional storehouses. He observed that the community was more compact than most, had been laid out at right angles, and was built on the steep slopes of a hill. The upper houses were on the crest of this slope, which in turn led up to a half-concealed parapet still surmounted by a blockhouse.
The topographical alignment and positioning of the community around its hilly prominence remain one of Lunenburg's defining aspects. The South Shore of Nova Scotia (1931) again described the town as being "on the southern exposure of a steep hill, and approaching from the sea, it has the appearance of a town much larger than it actually is. Its rows of houses built one above the other give it a picturesque and attractive appearance."
The 2003 Doers' and Dreamers' Guide, published by the NS Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, builds yet again on this theme of Lunenburg's tidy compactness and visual beauty, noting its "colourful waterfront, narrow streets and captivating architecture [which] radiate the flavour of the town's seafaring heritage." The superb preservation of Old Town Lunenburg led to its designation as a Canadian National Heritage District in 1991 and as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
"Report of the state and strength of the Forts and Batteries &cc...Nova Scotia ..."
Date: 1 July 1813
Reference: Great Britain Army. Royal Engineers Nova Scotia Archives MG 12 RE vol. 52
Theme: General Views
"Bird's Eye View of Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Ritcey's Cove"
Reference: Nova Scotia Archives / negative N-912
Theme: General Views
Nova Scotia Archives — https://archives.novascotia.ca/lunenburg/results/
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