Many European settlers settled originally on a seasonal basis along the coast of Nova Scotia and surrounding coastal areas to fish the abundant fishing grounds off the Grand Banks. The fleets of Ships came from England, France and Spain to fish. The settlements were used to dry and salt their fish to use as staple in their own diets and eventually to trade. The communities grew and led to a thriving industry along these coastal towns.
The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic celebrates this rich history of fishing the Canada’s North Atlantic. The Museum is located on the waterfront in the historic town of Lunenburg on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. The town itself has been awarded a prestigious UNESCO world heritage designation.
Initially the Museum started in 1967 aboard the 1938 schooner Theresa E. Connor, Canada’s oldest saltbank schooner. The ship remains the flagship of the museum docked alongside the current museum and is open to public viewing.
The Museum moved into a large complex of historic buildings along the waterfront. The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is a former fish plant, and the complex has grown over the years to offer a variety of exhibits on 3 floors along with retired fishing vessels, star attractions, floating alongside the museum including the side trawler Cape Sable and the Theresa E. Connor. Museum staff demonstrate traditional methods of cod fishing and life aboard these historic vessels.
The Museum includes an aquarium, the Ice House Theater with films all day and numerous fishing exhibits. In addition there is a Dory Shop where visitors can watch craftsmen demonstrating how a Dory is built, a maritime gift shop, and the Old Fish Factory, a seafood restaurant offering fresh local fish.
The Lunenburg waterfront is breathtakingly beautiful and the museum stands out with its brightly painted red buildings. Enjoy the fresh and saltwater aquariums filled with native fish. At the viewing tank gently touch starfish and other marine creatures, a definite favorite with the kids. Other exhibits include the Banks Fisheries Gallery, the Hall of Inshore Fisheries, the Dory Shop, the Whales & Whaling and August Gales exhibits and the Fishermen’s Memorial Room.
There are additional exhibits on shipbuilding, rum-running, life in the fishing communities and old marine engines. Among other things the exhibits offer old prints, photographs and illustrations of fishing methods and equipment. On the 2nd floor the Fishermen’s Memorial room offers a tribute to those men lost at sea from the port of Lunenburg.
During the season experience daily demonstrations on fish filleting, lobster traps & traditional crafts. There are various interactive exhibits including the launching of a schooner model and watching it “slide down the ways”. Watch or participate in hooking a mat or quilting in the Life in Fishing Communities exhibit. This museum has something for everyone.
One exhibit contains the world’s largest collection of artifacts from Canada’s famous schooner, the historic Bluenose. Bluenose 2 often docked alongside the wharf and offered trips and viewings. Currently the schooner is under restoration in Lunenburg.
The Museum has extensive resources for educational and historical purposes and is dedicated to the preservation of Atlantic Canada’s Seafaring Heritage. The South Shore Genealogical Society is also located in the Museum.
This Museum is a must see for any trip to the South Shore of Nova Scotia.