Sunday, 12 January 2020

Lunenburg Legacy

Our travels one August Saturday led us to the beautiful seaside town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Reknown for the Bluenose Schooner (as seen on the backside of the Canadian dime), Lunenburg is a picturesque town of approximately 2,300 residents. It has quite an interesting history.  The Acadians settled into the area between 1630 and 1689.  Logging and agriculture were prominent trades.  About a century later, the British established the area for protestants, from select areas of Europe, and granted "land lotteries" for them upon their arrival in 1753.  By the 19th century, seagoing trade started becoming more prominent.

In 1921, a fishing and racing schooner was built and launched by a company called the Smith & Rhuland Shipyard.  It was called the Bluenose.  It won every international fishing series race over a 17-year span and created for itself quite a reputation.

The Heritage dedication to the Bluenose

During WW2, Lunenburg contributed heavily to the war efforts, not only by providing ships and balaclavas, but by also facilitating training to exiled Norwegian whalers for the Royal Norwegian Navy and accommodating Canadian sailors while ships were in re-fit.

Lunenburg's streets are much the same as they were when it was first created.  In 1983, the streets and buildings were recognized as a national Historic District of Canada.  In 1995, Lunenburg was recognized by UNESCO World Heritage list for its town plan, well-preserved buildings and its contributions to the North Altantic fishery industry.  For more information, you can check out Lunenburg's website, which lists some really interesting information:

Our stroll on this particular sunny Saturday started off with an hour-long drive to a tourist information house, just outside the area.  We were told about the best spots to park (aka free or in spots where nobody else parks), one of them being right behind the local rec centre.  Once we got into town, we found it quite easily, parked, then started our trek towards downtown.  It was hot outside that day...really hot!  I was glad I wore a t-shirt that day.  It was hard to decide as I didn't know how the weather would fare, but decided on my "CFB Lahr" shirt.  A tribute to when I lived in Lahr, Germany as a child.

As we walked, I noticed the quiet calm in the air.  There wasn't much wind, so we tried to walk in the shady areas as best we could.  However, as we were passing some tennis courts, I happened to see something that peaked my interest.  We crossed the street towards a semi-abandoned parking lot by the water, in front of an old warehouse.  Old and worn but definitely one that had seen much use over the years.  But, what drew me to the lot wasn't the building, but a large chunk of concrete that was erected facing the street-front.  We walked over to it, and my jaw hit the ground.  It was a piece of the Berlin wall! 

"How the heck did you get here?"  I asked it out loud.  I was astounded.  I got shivers despite the heat.  Growing up in Germany during the early 1970's, I knew about the Berlin wall...we were warned about not going anywhere near the area.  Travelling there was not something that was done.  And yet, here in front of us was a symbol of both oppression and freedom.  I walked over to it and just stood in front of it.  Tentatively, I reached out and touched it.  It was cool and rough to the touch.  It definitely had seen much in its lifetime.  My mind raced a mile a minute imagining what this piece of rock represented and the journey it took to get to its resting place here.  I couldn't believe that here it sat, in Lunenburg of all places.  I asked my husband to take a photo, and then I sent it to my sister. 

After a few minutes of contemplation, we continued along the roadway until we saw a trail, then followed that towards town.  Along the way, we encountered an older gentleman, who I stopped and asked whether he lived in Lunenburg.  When he said he did, I asked him about the segment of the Berlin wall.  He told me about the large German community that came to Lunenburg, and supposed that's why the wall piece was brought here; as a reminder of the struggles and freedoms that came with it.  I thanked him and we continued along the trail.  We came across a quaint little sitting area that overlooked the water.  There were two chairs facing the water, so people could take in the view and relax.  While we did not have time to sit and spend time looking over the water, those chairs were sure tempting!

Seating along the trail looked very inviting!

About 10 minutes later, we reached our destination.  On our right was the sparkling water and boardwalk area, and to our left were various restaurants, shops and glimpses of the shipping industry that was once so abound in the area.  I was tickled by the homes and the varying colours - they were very reminiscent of the Maritimes' unique homes!

Some of the shops along the main road

One of the interesting buildings in the area



We continued our walk along the main road and came across a memorial.  There were four columns - each situated at North, South, East, West corners.  Dedicated to individuals and vessels lost at sea, it was a somber reminder of the struggles and hardships many faced.  It was beautifully made and people were walking around each column.


As we walked along the boardwalk and took in the view, we could imagine what it was like to live in such a beautiful town with such a rich history.  If you are able to travel to Nova Scotia, Lunenburg is definitely one of the places to visit. 

Until next time...

Sunday, 1 September 2019

A Grave Discovery!

On my August 8th stroll, I turned right down South Street, then left onto South Park Street (not to be confused with the South Park Street TV show!  lol).

It was hot and humid, and I was really hoping for a bit of a breeze to cool me...but alas, it was not meant to be, so I walked on.  I heard from some people that it's not normally really humid in Halifax, so I just chalked it up to the unusually hot summer we were experiencing.  Nevertheless, despite the humidity, I never realized how much excitement my morning walk would bring me.

As I turned onto South Park Street, on my right I noticed a cemetery.  Now, I normally don't make it a habit to wander through cemeteries (sudden thoughts of creepy, scary movies come to mind), but the sign on the entry fence invited me to check it out, so in I went.  The entry was via a driveway, which wound its way up to a church (which was under renovations) on the upper right of the hilly property. 

Cemeteries in Halifax are huge!  I mean really, really huge!  They take up blocks and blocks worth of real estate.  I'm not used to seeing so many cemeteries, so this one made my eyes bug out!  Old stones with markings, long worn, greeted visitors...aching for someone to strain and read their names again, to give them life once more.  Others were tall, regal, well marbled with age.  There were granite stones, cement stones, and some even had stone borders around their individual gravesites.  The cemetery's residents' loved ones made it personalized, to their own taste, it seemed.

I knew I didn't have a lot of time to walk through the whole cemetery, so I just kept walking straight.  Then, I came upon a beautiful above-ground crypt that  made me stand rock-still.  I could not just walk past it.  I was in total awe of what lie in front of me...I stepped forward and knew that this was a special grave...for this was not just another resting spot, but the crypt of Canada's 4th Prime Minister, Sir John Sparrow David Thompson. 

Sir Thompson was just 47 when he became Prime Minister in 1892 (although the website I researched indicates he was 48).  He was the first Roman Catholic and Maritimer to become Prime Minister. 

According to the website, Sir Thompson was a lawyer, judge and politician, who for a brief time in 1882, was also the Premier of Nova Scotia.

Sir Thompson was part of Sir John A. MacDonald's government, as Minister of Justice.  When MacDonald passed away, JJC Abbott took office as there would have been issues with Thompson taking over as Prime Minister, due to his religion.  However, Thompson acted as House Leader.  When Abbott retired in 1892, Thompson became Prime Minister and gained much support from his party.  One notable mention was that Thompson created the Criminal Code of 1892.

Thompson passed away in 1894, at Windsor Castle, only an hour after being sworn in as a member of the Imperial Privy Council by Queen Victoria.  Such a shock!  His body was then sent back to Canada for burial.

After reading about Sir Thompson and walking around his beautiful, ornate crypt, I felt I needed to walk on just a bit...and what I saw was equally astounding.  From the huge crypt to a single granite memorial stone, I read the names of the Halifax explosion victims that were buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery.  I wanted to cry, for I knew most of those victims were women and children.

Last year, our family went on holidays to Halifax and Cape Breton, and while in Halifax, visited the Maritime Museum where we learned about the explosion.  It was a sobering experience seeing the blown-apart bits of ships, clothing, personal effects, and reading about the victims and survivors.

The Halifax explosion happened on December 6, 1917.  It was devastating to the city.  Two ships (one them a munitions ship) collided in Halifax Harbour.  The result was one of the largest explosions prior to 1945's detonation of the atomic bomb.  The website "Canadian Encyclopedia" has some great articles about it:

It took me a while to digest all of the information I learned about Sir Thompson - and I'm so glad I took the time to stop and look closer at his gravesite.  I'm also very humbled by the single stone I saw that marked the victims of the Halifax explosion.  Such sadness, but at the same time, makes you think about history and how it shaped the country.  I noticed that my 20 minutes was coming to end, so I headed back to the office, with deep thoughts running through my mind.  I would have to come back another day.

The next time you're by a graveyard, shrug off the spooky feelings and step inside.  You never know what lies inside!

Until next time...

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

A New Beginning

With every beginning comes new discoveries.  That's how I thought of our move to Nova Scotia.  It's a scary thought packing up, purging your household and saying goodbye to friends and family.  A tough decision, to say the least!

True...a lot of my family live in Cape Breton and I was born there, but I didn't grow up there.  My dad was in the military, so we moved when I was quite young, and I ended up spending some great years in Lahr, Germany.  But that's a story for another day...

When we discussed moving here, one of the things we wanted to do was travel and explore the province.  I had come to Halifax in May of 2019 for a conference and happened to come across the boardwalk in the downtown area. I found that walk really relaxing, exciting, and beautiful...and so, that's where we went for our first weekend stroll...

The boardwalk starts off at Pier 20 (or Pavillion 20 as the sign says) which is next to the cruise ship terminal.  Inside the building is the Farmer's Market - a host of vendors selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, multiple varieties of ethnic foods (which smell so good when you walk inside), craft beers and wines, arts and crafts and so much more.  Something for everyone!  It was fun to meander through the throngs of people, all so happy to be inside the air-conditioned building, and to see such a wide variety of goods for sale.  Families sat at tables in the little restaurant areas, licking ice creams, sipping slushies and noshing on dumpling meals.  Others considered which fruits and vegetables to buy, looking intently at them, pinching fruits and taste-testing some.  The atmosphere was excitingly contagious.

We walked through there for a while, then made our way to the wooden boardwalk that wound its way around the perimeter of the harbour.  Sounds of a harpist playing greeted us as we strolled...soft melodies to entice us to listen and appreciate the sunny day and what lie ahead.  Then, as we strolled past, the roar of ski-doos broke the enchantment, reminding us that there was more to see farther down.  We strolled along slowly, sitting from time-to-time, enjoying the smells of the ocean breeze and the sounds all around us.

One thing I noticed was there were so many statues.  The city really tries to commemorate its history and its roots.  The statue below really struck a chord with me.  If you look closely at the tree in the background, above the family left behind, it's actually hands waving goodbye.  I stood and took that in for a long time.  It's called "The Emigrant."

We passed souvenir shops (which offered everything from "New Scotland" t-shirts to maple in jars and candies) to little canteens under awnings that sold slushies (and in the heat, a very welcome treat!).  Further down, we saw a vendor that I needed to visit...a place called "Cows."  I had never heard of the company before and when I was at my conference in May, one of my colleagues told me I needed to try "Cow" ice cream.  "It's so good!" she said, "you have to try it."  So, as we approached, her voice suddenly reared up in my head and I said, "Hey!  There's the Cow place.  Let's try some ice cream."  I have to say, I was NOT disappointed.  The ice cream was smooth, cold and very refreshing for the hot day.  Multiple flavours on the sign told us this was no ordinary ice-cream shop:  Nanaimoo Bar; Moo York Cheesecake; Cownadian Maple to name a few.  I had Chip Chip Hooray.

After our stroll, we decided to head out of downtown and over to Dartmouth Crossing for a very exciting trip - to a store we didn't have in Victoria - IKEA!  Oh boy!  You could walk all day through that store!  There is so much to see there, and I felt like a kid in a candy store.

IKEA also has electric car chargers!

And, because I love the movie "Jaws," I had to take a picture of the baby sharks!  Will have to buy one, one of these days!

I hope you enjoyed this New Beginning with us.  Until next time...

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Why 20-Minutes?

Hi everyone!  Welcome to my first Blog!

You might ask, "20-minute Stroller?  What's with that?" 

Let me give you a bit of background, since this is the first post and you'll need some context of why I decided on the name.

In July 2019, my husband, Jack, and I, moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  We lived in Victoria, British Columbia for almost 30 years, but felt that for economics, the time had come for us to move to my home province. 

I was born in Nova Scotia...most of my family still lives here, so it made sense to move back to the province where I was born.  But...I actually never lived here! I was born here, but my dad was in the military, and we moved away when I was very little. That's a story for another day!

I was offered a job here, which I really like, but I also enjoy being outside.  When I worked in Victoria, I would go for a stroll with a co-worker every morning for our "chill pill" - it gave us our much-needed breathe of fresh air, and we could walk for about 20 minutes to stretch our legs and reinvigorate our senses.   I don't drink coffee, so never really took a real "coffee break!"  ha ha.  Fast forward to now...

When I started my new job, I wanted to continue taking my 20-minute strolls.  What could I explore and see in those 20 minutes?  Well, let me tell you...there's a lot to experience in that time.

Join me on my 20-minute adventures (and some weekend excursions) and see the sites of picturesque Nova Scotia...learn some of its history, and just some really neat things that I see along the way.  I'll be posting about once a week, so stay tuned!

And, in the meantime, if you want to learn more about me, please visit my website at