Lunenburg: A UNESCO World Heritage Site In Canada

The waterfront view of the historic town of Lunenburg.
The waterfront view of the historic town of Lunenburg.
  • Lunenburg is one of two urban areas in North America that have been established as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • The town has a British-influenced grid-like design.
  • The charming look of the town is enforced to residents through several government acts.

What Is The Historic Town Of Lunenburg?

Lunenburg is located on the southern coast of the province of Nova Scotia in Canada. The town was founded in 1753 during the Father Le Loutre War as the first attempt by the British to replace the Indigenous and Acadian Catholic populations with Protestant settlers. Today, the historic district of Lunenburg is considered to be the most well-preserved example of a planned British community in North America. In fact, it is one of only two urban areas in North America that have been established as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Why Is Lunenburg A UNESCO World Heritage Site?

This historic town has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for many reasons, primarily because it has maintained its original appearance and grid-like design. Many of the buildings here reflect the typical wooden British architecture of the 18th century. The local government and residents have made every effort over the years to preserve these homes and public buildings. A visit to this city allows tourists to walk back in time and appreciate the colorful exteriors of architectural tradition.

Its coastal location has heavily influenced the local economy, which relies on the Atlantic fishing industry. The port of the city is filled with tall boats, adding to its charming appearance. The original urban planning is still reflected in this area of the city and it has remained unchanged since it was first established. This lack of significant change to the layout of the city is because its grid-like design has remained useful to the needs of the local community and economy.

The only thing missing from the original city is the British fortifications, once used for military purposes. No visible ruins remain. Aside from this, experts agree that Lunenburg is an authentic British colonial town in its architecture, materials, functions, and setting. Not only are the streets laid out in a rectangular and organized fashion, but the city design also incorporated centralized public areas and important community buildings, which are still in use today.

Management Of Lunenburg

Management of the historic district of Lunenburg is somewhat demanding on the local population. This is because property owners are faced with the challenge of affording maintenance costs while remaining true to historical accuracy in building representations. Restoration efforts are regulated by several government acts. This area of Lunenburg has been recognized as historically valuable since 1989 when it was first protected under the Heritage Property Act. Since then, the government has enacted various pieces of legislation in an attempt to ensure it retains its original appearance. Some of these protective measures include registration as a National Historic Site in 1991 and protection under the Municipal Government Act of 1998. These two regulations allowed for the creation of the Heritage Conservation District Plan, Bylaw, and Guidelines in 2001, which helps guide the community and private property owners in the complex management of a World Heritage Site. Constant efforts to maintain the town’s integrity and authenticity are undertaken by the local and national government. In 2010, the local government published the Lunenburg Heritage Public Sustainability Strategy to offer development guidance and to identify potential tourism benefits that could boost the town’s economy.


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