Late in August, I took my family on a day trip to Old Town Lunenburg. This exquisitely maintained Nova Scotian town, about an hour from Halifax, is built on a steep hill, and maintains its original layout, overall appearance, and charm since its founding in 1753. As we walked the colourful streets lined with Colonial and Victorian homes, I thought about how while other cities and towns tear down heritage properties to make way for modern buildings and planning, Lunenburg has done the opposite and found success in it.
When UNESCO recognised Lunenburg as a World Heritage Site in 1995, it prepared its World Heritage Community Strategy. Updated in 2009, the plan “guides the town’s development over the next 10 to 15 years, including the identification of heritage, culture, and tourism opportunities that may produce economic opportunities for the community.” In short, a way to preserve heritage while creating a community that still works for residents.
One way the town does this is its conservation bylaw. Within the Heritage Conservation District, the town encourages proper conservation practices with incentive grants to homeowners, making them key stakeholders in the preservation, and success, of the community. The result is colourful homes and businesses sitting together in a tightly packed layout. As you walk the streets, which is the best way to drink in the architecture, you’ll discover brightly painted 18th- and 19th-century homes.
It’s easy to see rural towns as quaint, but even our largest cities can learn something from Lunenburg. The town has grown around the tourism industry that draws visitors to spend dollars at the many bed and breakfasts, artisan shops, and eateries serving up seafood alongside locally-grown fare. Additionally, the low cost of living and slower small-town pace attracts non-traditional businesses, including video game developer HB Studios, Ironworks Distillery, and soon-to-open Shipwright Brewing.
With that in mind, in this issue, we’ll take you to visit a traditional saltbox home in Renews-Cappahayden, about an hour outside St. John’s, N.L. Homeowner Virginia Trieloff shares her love story with a rural village where she restored several homes. In our project section, nature will inspire your home décor, and we’ll share tips to update your bathroom on a budget. In the kitchen, we highlight spots to add storage and learn to grow microgreens and shoots on the window sill.
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