Nova Scotia Archives

Lunenburg by the Sea


Shipbuilding and Repair

It did not take the early settlers long to realize the potential of the sea which surrounded them — especially when they realized the challenges and limitations inherent in farming the lands they had been given. By the late 1700s, the shift from land to sea had already begun. If the settlers wanted to travel anywhere, they went by sea. To go by sea, they needed a vessel. In a growing community, many vessels were needed for travel and trade.

Thus by August 1787 it was no surprise when the Halifax newspaper noted the arrival in port of "a handsome brig built in Lunenburg." By the 1830s, Lunenburgers owned one ship, six brigs and 68 schooners — the lure of the Banks fishery, with its need for smaller, faster and more agile vessels, had begun. In 1861, during the Golden Age of Sail, there were eighteen vessels on the building stocks in Lunenburg at one time.

Noted pioneer shipbuilder David Smith built his first vessel there in 1862 and continued until 1898. After Smith died in mid-January 1899, The Halifax Herald reported that "he had launched from his yard 104 vessels; and re-built 13. His yearly expenditure was from $15,000 to $20,000. At times there were from 30 to 40 teams a day unloading timber, and he had paid out $1,000 a day for stock."

A few days later, The Halifax Herald again commented on shipbuilding in Lunenburg, under the banner headline 'Boom is on in Lunenburg Shipbuilding', announcing that fifteen vessels were then on the stocks in Lunenburg County — ten on the LaHave River, four in Lunenburg and one in Mahone Bay.

McAlpine's Gazetteer for 1919 noted that Lunenburg's chief industries were "agriculture, fishing, ship and boat building, the latter on a large scale; there are 3 ship yards and 5 boat building establishments." Construction of wooden vessels continued well into the twentieth century — the most famous Lunenburg products are without doubt the Bluenose (1921), Bluenose II (1963) and the replica of HMS Bounty (1960).


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lunenburg200300052
SS Lunenburg
Date: ca. 1896
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives Library VF vol. 135 no. 32

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

lunenburg200321187
Schooner under construction behind W.C. Smith & Co. Ltd.
Date: ca. 1900
[ca.1900]:
Reference no.: A. Silver Nova Scotia Archives no. 2

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

lunenburg200300074
Shipbuilding
Date: ca. 1900
Reference no.: Bailly Family Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1985-562 no. 63 / negative no. FP/DN1315

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

lunenburg200300090
Lunenburg Waterfront and Schooner under Construction, as seen from the Harbour
Date: ca. 1900
Photographer: W.L. Bishop
Reference no.: W.L. Bishop Nova Scotia Archives no. 106 / negative no. N-1607

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

lunenburg200300014
"The Bluenose on the slip at Lunenburg, N.S."
Date: 1930
Photographer: Canadian National Railways
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives Library PS8537 A119 p.14

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

lunenburg200300015
"Lunenburg, N.S."
Date: 1930
Photographer: Canadian National Railways
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives Library PS8537 A119 p.34

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

macaskill200321179
Building schooner, Smith & Rhuland yards, Lunenburg
Photographer: W.R. MacAskill
Reference no.: W.R. MacAskill Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-453 no. 425

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

macaskill200321165
Building schooner, Lunenburg
Photographer: W.R. MacAskill
Reference no.: W.R. MacAskill Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-453 no. 429

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

lunenburg200300094
Shipbuilding in Lunenburg showing completed vessel Vagabond Prince and another partially completed in slipways
Date: ca. 1947
Photographer: Canadian National Railways
Reference no.: Queens County Historical Society Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1978-199 no. 9

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

macaskill200321161
Lunenburg launching day
Photographer: W.R. MacAskill
Reference no.: W.R. MacAskill Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-453 no. 827

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

macaskill200310225
Building schooner
Photographer: W.R. MacAskill
Reference no.: W.R. MacAskill Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-453 no. 426

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

nsis09429
"Wooden shipbuilding, Lunenburg"
Date: 1955
Photographer: Nova Scotia Information Service
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Information Service Nova Scotia Archives NSIS no. 9429

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

nsis10613
"Shipbuilding at Smith & Rhuland, Lunenburg"
Date: 1956
Photographer: Nova Scotia Information Service
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Information Service Nova Scotia Archives NSIS no. 10613

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

nsis10273
"Dartmouth Ferry at Smith & Rhuland shipyards"
Date: 1956
Photographer: Nova Scotia Information Service
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Information Service Nova Scotia Archives NSIS no. 10273

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair

nsis13802
"Fred Rhuland, builder of the Bounty, Lunenburg"
Date: 1960
Photographer: Nova Scotia Information Service
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Information Service Nova Scotia Archives NSIS no. 13802 / negative no. 13802

Theme: Shipbuilding and Repair
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