Every year we spend Christmas Holidays near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It is magical.
We always drive from Toronto (usually this takes 17 straight hours) and this year, due to bad weather, and a break-down near Quebec at 4 am – sleeping in the car at night in winter was a first for us- it took a LONG 25 hours door to door. The following day was beautiful. A big reward for all that effort.
Lunenburg was founded in 1753 and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This means that the town’s unique architecture is protected, recognizing it as an excellent example of a planned British colonial settlement. In the past, Lunenburg was an important fishing and shipbuilding centre, but now it thrives on tourism (in the summer) and many small diverse industries including a film studio (HB Studios), airplane industrial design (Composites Atlantic) and a micro-distillery (The Ironworks). High Liner Foods still processes fish there, but the main product is being harvested offshore. One of the main attractions in summer is the Bluenose II, the replica of the original schooner.
Usually The Bluenose sits front and center at the main dock of Lunenburg, but she just underwent an extensive 25 month restoration. She was relaunched at the end of September 2012 to much celebratory fanfare. I managed to find her tucked away in a protected area of the harbour,where I understand she is having her spars etc fitted. Looks like they are going to have her sailing this spring.
On Christmas Eve we always attend service at the historic St. John’s Anglican Church, situated in the heart of the town. As someone who has done a LOT of work studying and lecturing on cathedral architecture of Europe, I cannot stress how beautiful the interior of this church is. There was a damaging fire in 2001, and thanks to many local craftsmen, St. John’s was completely restored by 2005. During the restoration it was discovered, in consultation with Dr. David Turner of St. Mary’s University in Halifax, that the unique pattern of stars on the chancel ceiling were represented exactly as they would have been at sunset in Lunenburg on December 25th, 1 A.D. It is stunning.
Usually the service on Christmas Eve is uneventful. This year however, someone had the innovative idea (read ‘crazy’ since it is winter and was quite a chilly evening) that we should spend half of it outside before the traditional nativity. I might add here that ” Lunenburgers” go all out on this part, always including a live baby and animals. This night the ‘holy family’ resided inside a dory, a typical shallow draft fishing boat. The wise men in this case were fishermen in their yellow rain slickers.
Great idea, but the congregation was freezing (my gang didn’t bring coats because usually it is really warm inside…so you can imagine how long they lasted!!) The only guys who were warm were the ones who came with the shepherds.
Christmas Day means a beach walk. We went to the Hirtles, my favourite in the area.
Everyone enjoyed themselves.
One thing quickly learned when living beside the ocean is that the weather is volatile. A beautiful sunny day can easily be followed by one that is stormy.
And then it is a good idea to stay inside. Read, watch a dvd, or knit. Pure bliss.
Happy 2013 to all.