April 18, 2019
The province and the Government of Canada are investing $1.5 million to revitalize and enhance the Big Boat Shed on Nova Scotia's iconic Lunenburg waterfront to ensure it continues to be a place where Nova Scotians and visitors can experience and participate in traditional shipbuilding.
The Big Boat Shed was the main boatbuilding facility of the Smith and Rhuland Shipyards, which opened in 1900. Over its 67 years of operation, more than 270 boats were built on the site including prominent vessels such as the Bounty, Rose, and Bluenose II. The original Bluenose was built next door.
The province is contributing $1 million, including $750,000 through the Tourism Revitalization of Icons Program administered by Tourism Nova Scotia and $250,000 from Develop Nova Scotia.
"The Town of Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Nova Scotia's most visited tourism destinations," said Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, on behalf of Business Minister Geoff MacLellan. "This investment will further highlight our shipbuilding heritage, generate new business opportunities around the site and enhance the overall experience for visitors."
This phase of the project includes stabilizing the building, re-constructing the floor and installing a full-length concrete slipway. This will be followed by improvements to the structure and windows and doors, while preserving the historical feel of the building.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), through its Innovative Communities Fund, is providing a $500,000 non-repayable contribution toward the project.
"The Government of Canada knows that tourism is an economic driver that offers tremendous opportunities, especially for rural communities in Atlantic Canada," said Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development on behalf of the Navdeep Bains, Minister responsible for ACOA.
"Not only will this project drive more tourists to the Lunenburg waterfront, but it will also pay homage to our history and roots through partnerships with local schools to teach these traditional boatbuilding skills to the next generation."
ACOA's investment supports a new, accessible viewing deck for the public to observe large boat construction and repair activities. In partnership with the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, an exhibit area will be part of the expansion as well as programming space to teach traditional boatbuilding skills.
Develop Nova Scotia is overseeing the project as part of its work with the community to revitalize the waterfront. The Big Boat Shed is identified as a key project in the working waterfront master plan and dovetails with the town's strategic planning.
"It's wonderful to recognize the history of this important working waterfront building," said Jennifer Angel, chief executive officer, Develop Nova Scotia. "Through collaboration with partners, this iconic home to decades of shipbuilding will inspire future generations of boatbuilders and provide an opportunity for visitors to learn about Lunenburg's proud shipbuilding heritage."
In recent years, world-renowned master boatbuilder David Westergard chose Lunenburg to practise his craft. Once upgrades are complete, he plans to lease space and continue to build, allowing visitors to see the work involved in building a traditional wooden schooner.
Phase one is expected to be complete by spring 2020 with Phase two for summer of 2021.
Tourism Nova Scotia