The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is located in the former Lunenburg Fish Factory. The museum features the history of fishing on the Atlantic Coast of Canada. I was part of a group of travel writer’s that was able to visit this historic museum along the port.
The museum guides are retired fishermen and experienced Heritage Interpreters. Our guide was from a seven generation fishing family. Missing the first part of the tour, I sadly missed her name, but came in on the highlight of the Bluenose, a famous schooner built in Lunenburg. This boat was under the command of Angus Walters. “She was built in four months in the winter to be a racer and a working boat,” our guide said.
The ship became an icon for Canadians everywhere and after she sunk off the coast of Haiti in 1946, another Bluenose II was built in 1963 then dismantled in 2010. The replica was built at Lunenburg using the original Bluenose plans. She was built by the Oland Brewery as a marketing tool for their beer brand and used as a pleasure yacht for the Olands family. Later the Bluenose II was sold to the government of Nova Scotia and was used for tourism promotion as a “sailing ambassador”.
Another Bluenose II was built and launched in 2013; it is tied up at Lunenburg, but unlike the other vessels is surrounded by controversy because of the cost and questions on the integrity of the ship.
Part of the history of fishing in the Atlantic is the danger that the brave sailors face. Due to storms and sometimes land formations like the sandbar around Sable Island (where the famous Sable Island horses are) ships went down. “In 1926 to 1927 we lost six ships. In the town of Blue Rock where I am from,” our guide said,” we lost one out of three men.”
These losses hit the women of Blue Rock hard and they demanded that the men no longer go to sea without some type of communications so they could be warned of oncoming storms. “After this we separated families and no more than two family members could be on one boat,” our guide said.
“All fishermen now need an emergency certificate. Ninety percent of fisherman doesn’t swim,” she said. Women were not a part of ship life except perhaps a captain’s wife or two, although women did work on shore and in the lobster boats.
The museum also has an aquarium and a couple of boats that are tied up outside of the museum. One highlight inside the museum is the record breaking 44 lb lobster. We were able to learn how to open up scallop shells. This is just one example of the educational programs that are offered. Alex Green, a fisherman from New Foundland showed us how to shuck scallops said, “A good shucker can shuck 25 a minute.”
Quite an astounding feat. I think I would be missing a fin
ger or two if I tried that! That evening after our tour and check in at the lovely Lunenburg Arms hotel, we dined at The Old Fish Factory Restaurant & Ice House Bar. This restaurant is associated with the museum and we had amazing food and wonderful service. I had scallops and loved the fresh seafood, I was just glad I didn’t have to catch, shuck and cook it!
For more information, log onto https://fisheriesmuseum.novascotia.ca/.