We spent three years in Lunenburg licking our wounds after my mother passed away. It’s a lovely seafaring town that is home to 2,400 souls, even when soaking wet.
It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a subtle choice at that. Filled with Victorian homes of uncommon charm, each streetscape seems plucked from a fairy tale. When the fog rolls in off the Atlantic shrouding the town in gray mist as tall ships like the Bluenose and Picton Castle heave gently against their wharves, all is revealed. In Lunenburg, barely a hand’s breadth separates past from present. This is as close to a thriving town, circa 1870, as the New World can offer to travelers in the 21st century.
We lived in a drafty, rundown apartment, but we ennjoyed some happy times. The town was so small, so quiet. So often osprey, eagles and comorants would outnumber automobiles along the byways. You could shoot a cannonball down Pelham Street at 9pm on an autumn night and not hit a thing.
Anyway, I said all that so I could tell you about this.
I was talking business with an old family friend some time ago, and she mentioned how much she she loved Lunenburg. And then she told me a funny story that makes me smile every time I think of it.
Her husband is a well-known Halifax lawyer, and he was trying a case involving a Lunenburg company, and interviewing potential witnesses. Several people suggested that he talk to an old salt, now living in Herman’s Island, which is really nothing more than a village with maybe 20 houses.
Trying to put the old timer at ease, he asked a few general interest questions, and then wanted to know how the old fisherman ended up in Herman’s Island.
“Oh,” he said, “I just couldn’t stand the city anymore.
“The rat race in Lunenburg was killin’ me!”