Businesses in Town

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In 1888 the Lunenburg Progress published a description of the businesses that operated in Lunenburg at that time. These records provide an insight into the types of businesses that were used by the townsfolk.

Whilst many of the businesses were connected with the fishing, shipbuilding and trading aspects of life in Lunenburg there were many business activities that would have been found in any town in Nova Scotia at that time. This picture shows the wharf and stores of Zwicker & Co. in 1899.

There were many stores that sold a great variety of merchandise. O. A. Cossman sold family groceries, general provisions, canned goods and "pure and unadulterated teas and coffees", sugar and molasses plus crockery and glassware. W.A. Schmidt was a grocer. His shop is shown at the left.

Peter H. Ross, located in Hirtles Block in Lincoln Street, described himself as a wholesale and retail dealer who sold groceries, flour, feed and crockery. Other stores in town sold canned goods, foreign and domestic fruits in season, fresh country produce, field and garden seeds as well as crockery, glassware and stationery.

J. S. Berringer was a grocer. His stock of fresh fruit, eggs, butter and meat would have come from local farmers. Local farmers would have often bartered for items they could not make or grow themselves; eggs and butter were common currency for barter.

Many stores described their stock as dry goods, such as C & W Whitney and D. J. Rudolf. The advertisements show that these "dry goods" were clothing for men & women plus fabrics and trimmings for clothes and in case of Whitney's there was a tailoring and millinery department. Some stores, such as W. A. Zwicker, sold gent's items only, and Freeman & Smith sold shoes and boots. Pictures of their stores are below.

S. A. Rounsefell advertised Drugs and Fancy Goods and is described in the Lunenburg Progress as a Chemist and Druggist selling "pure fresh drugs and chemicals, popular patent medicines, surgical appliances, sponges, toilet articles and perfumery. He also sold medicine chests for the fishing fleet and tobacco, cigars and pipes and, surprisingly, seeds.

There were also merchants selling furniture such as Lunenburg Furniture Company; F. Schwartz, who was a watch maker and jeweller; S. Hunter who sold pianos, organs and sewing machines; and Lewis A. Hirtle, a photographer (to whom we are indebted for many of the photographs in this exhibition).

At this establishment (see left) he also provided the male population with cigars, chewing tobacco, briar-root and meerschaum pipes and hairdressing.



Horses were the usual means of transport and J. F. Hall on Lincoln Street was a manufacturer and dealer in harnesses and horse equipment — bridles, whips, brushes etc.Liveries provided facilities to stable horses. Horses could also be hired.

ivery stable of Mr. J. F. BackmanThe picture at the right shows the livery stable of Mr. J. F. Backman.

Captain George Naas on his horse-drawn sleighThe picture at left shows Captain George Naas on his horse-drawn sleigh. The Lunenburg Carriage and Sleigh Factory, owned by J. Rafuse, was opened in the 1880s.

Trains and Ships

Lunenburg only had a train service from December 23rd 1889, when the train line between Middleton and Bridgewater was extended to Lunenburg. This was a service for freight as well as passengers. The train table is shown here.

train tables

Note the reference to the steamer service to Halifax. There had been regular services between Halifax and Lunenburg for many years. Adolphus Gaetz refers to the launch of the schooner "Lunenburg Packet" on July 15 1855. In 1866 Gaetz states that either the steamer "Island City" or "Emperor" will soon be used to provide a steamer service between Halifax and Yarmouth calling at Lunenburg, Liverpool and Shelburne. In 1891 the SS Lunenburg began service on the Halifax to Lunenburg route and in summer she called at Chester for the tourist trade.

Lunenburg Train Station, 1899 & SS Lunenburg, 1899
Lunenburg Train Station, 1899 SS Lunenburg, 1899


There were several hotels in Lunenburg such as the King's Hotel and the Bauckmann Hotel.

The Bauckmann HotelThe Bauckmann Hotel had 20 rooms, a parlour, a smoking room and a dining room. This hotel also had livery stables and boarding and "baiting" (feeding) for up to 40 horses.

The pictures below show the King's Hotel on Pelham Street, operated by J. W. King, and its dining room. It had "28 spacious, airy bedrooms supplied with hot and cold water and heated by hot water radiators. A large, handsomely-furnished drawing room, one private and two public parlours, a writing room and office, … a large dining room where tables are always bountiful supplied with delicacies and substantials of the season."

The King's Hotel on Pelham Street, operated by J. W. King

Hardware Businesses

There were suppliers of hardware such as Frank Powers, who was reputed to have made an "electric bicycle", though he advertised stoves, water closets, and bathtubs. J. Newton Dauphinee dealt in ranges and stoves, as did G. Myra.

a copy of the invoice for the wallpaper for St John's Anglican Rectory dated July 29th 1887John Lindsay John Lindsay was described as a dealer in general hardware, stoves, farming implements and groceries. Under the heading of general hardware he also sold wallpaper. At the left is a copy of the invoice for the wallpaper for St John's Anglican Rectory dated July 29th 1887.

Trade and Industry

There were other trades and industries here in town as well as those involved in the fishing and ship-building industries. Examples of these are explored below.

Trades such as the cobblers' shops were a necessity in any town and one was located at 56 Prince Street from 1893. Cobblers' shops were small establishments with one or occasionally two men working in them, but not all the town trades and industries were such small scale. Further along Prince Street was the C. Albert Smith Threshing Mill, Sash and Door Factory and Planing Mill (photograph below). There are at least 27 people in the photograph and, whilst maybe some were customers, this indicates a substantial work force.

There were many blacksmiths' shops, such as E. Bailley and Thomas Walters, shown below. Each of them employed more than half a dozen men and boys. It is said that there were "smithies at the end of every block on the waterfront" more than a century ago. Blacksmiths not only shod horses and made and repaired farm implements but also made and repaired iron fittings for ships, including anchors and fishing knives.

There had been many tanneries in Lunenburg in the 1820s – 1850s, which tanned the hides of caribou and moose. As these animals were hunted out, the number of tanneries rapidly declined and by 1896 only two remained, located on Northwest Road and on Mahone Bay Road. The photo below shows a local tannery.

Another employer in the town from 1896 was the foundry – the Lunenburg Iron Co. Ltd was described as the "first large-scale manufacturing enterprise" in Lunenburg. At the foundry they manufactured, among other items, the Mayflower Stoves and Ranges. The photo below shows Lunenburg foundry workers.