LUNENBURG's 250th ANNIVERSARY
GRAND FAMILY REUNION

July 10 - 14, 2003

FOREIGN PROTESTANT's MONUMENT UNVEILING

July 12, 2003

In 1988, a Monument was dedicated on Blockhouse Hill
to those founding settlers who had come from the Montbeliard Region of France.

To commemorate the arrival of all the other founding families,
a complementary monument was dedicated during the 250th Anniversary Year.

The pictorial essay below documents this event.


First, the Official Program

photo - Chris Young

photo - Chris Young

photo - Chris Young

photo - Chris Young

A view of the monument before the ceremony.

photo - Lana Veinotte

The crowd assembles in eager anticipation.
Note the grey skies. The day began foggy and damp.

photo - Ken Hubley

On schedule, the Dignatories assemble.
From left to right: Dr. Terrance Punch, the Representative of the German Consulate,
Mayor Laurence Mawhinney, Town Crier William Cluett,

and Bruce Veinotte.

photo - Barb Peart

William Cluett, the Town Crier calls those assembled to order.

photo - Barb Peart

Note that the sun has begun to shine :-)
Note also the proximity of the Montbeliard Monument to the right.

photo - Sandy Town

Master of Ceremonies Bruce Veinotte then introduces the assembled Dignitaries and the event continues to unfold.

photo - Lana Veinotte

Greetings from the Town are delivered by His Worship, Mayor Laurence Mawhinney.

photo - Barb Peart

The Lunenburg Kinderchor was established
to continue the Lunenburg tradition of Choral singing
and to foster a continuing awareness and knowledge of the German Heritage.

photo - Lana Veinotte

This was followed by a greeting from a Representative from the German Embassy.

photo - Chris Young


Next, Dr. Terry Punch, a noted Nova Scotian Family Historian
put the event into a historical context.

photo - Lana Veinotte

LUNENBURG: 250 YEARS

Fifteen years ago this month a large throng of people, including many now present, stood on this hill with its magnificent views of Lunenburg's two harbours. We were honouring the Montbéliardais people in the party which founded this historic town. It was also the 400th anniversary of the founding of Frédéric-Fontaine by the Duke of Württemberg as a haven for Swiss refugees from persecution.

Today an even larger assembly stands has gathered. The view is as good as it was in 1988, but this time we are honouring all the founders of Lunenburg. The more than 1400 Foreign Protestants who were about to receive the first instalment of their promised lands in Nova Scotia. Some of those German farmers had not planted a crop or reaped a harvest since 1749, and they had done that in a very different place.

The Germany of 1750 was not one country but a loose gathering of kingdoms, duchies, bishoprics, electorates, principalities, counties, lordships and free cities, nominally ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Our ancestral homelands, whether extensive like the Palatinate, or as tiny as Wied-Runkel, had been cultivated for centuries. The surface was criss-crossed by roads, while rivers of varying length and depth linked communities as well. Here and there a church spire reared its finger towards Heaven, which all - Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed and Anabaptist alike - believed awaited them after a toilsome life. Some castles were inhabited. Others, such as the Schloss at Heidelberg burned by the military of Louis XIV of France in 1689, stood in ruins. The landscape was a scenic blend of natural and manmade features, quite different from Nova Scotia at that time.

A few of our Foreign Protestant ancestors lived in England before 1750 when the British government decided to divert some of the emigration from the Rhineland towards Nova Scotia, but most of them were still on their lands or in villages plying their trades as carpenters or masons, millers or coopers. It is likely that our forefathers might never have been sent to these shores had the original British settlers of Halifax stayed put. As it turned out, desertion and harsh conditions defeated. the first serious effort at British settlement in Nova Scotia. The government revived an idea that had been rejected when proposed in the past. They hired a Rotterdam merchant, John Dick, to recruit and send here parties of Germans and Swiss, whose religion and steady habits commended them to the authorities as promising material to form settlements in Nova Scotia.

And so it was done. The Foreign Protestants set out in early 1750, 51 and 52. They would be provisioned for a year after reaching Nova Scotia, be supplied with tools and utensils, some building materials and grants of land related to the size of their families. They would have to repay their fares across the Atlantic by working on redemption labour fortifying Halifax and constructing roads and palisades.

The people went through the process of selling what they could, obtaining the necessary permissions and manumissions and written proofs of these, paying taxes, and then setting out for Rotterdam, a port few of them had ever visited. There they bearded a ship such as they had never seen, and set forth on an ocean whose size was beyond their imaginations. Emotionally, many of them had just spoken their good byes to relatives and friends they would probably not see again in this world. Today, we go to work in Calgary or Arizona, knowing we are hours away by plane from parents, children, siblings and loved ones. Our ancestors were saying much more than auf wiedersehen.

Most of them reached Halifax safely, though there were deaths during the long weeks at sea. Others succumbed to the severe winter conditions facing them on an island in Halifax harbour or in drafty barracks at Dutch Village, and during the winter of 1752/53 many perished of epidemic disease.

It was between nine months and two and a half years after reaching Halifax that over 1400 Foreign Protestants, among them 34 of my own ancestors, were brought to Lunenburg in two flotillas in the late spring of 1753, led by Col. Charles Lawrence. He may not be universally beloved, yet he must be respected as the man who did his best for the founding settlers of Lunenburg. He reined in the worst excesses and provided calm if sometimes slow leadership to the founding enterprise. Let us also note with appreciation Dr. Winthrop P. Bell, whose tireless labours discovered and taught us so much of our history.

Our ancestors were hardy, indeed some studies suggest that we come of stock that tends towards longevity. Those settlers had survived walking to Rotterdam carrying what they could, crossing a strange ocean in crowded ships, and eating poor food. They had survived storm and disease, and endured a long wait at Halifax while the authorities arranged for their location on their town and garden plots. There were no roads and church steeples at Merliguish when the settlers arrived that May and June. There was not much by way of cleared land, other than a patch inhabited by the Métis family named Labrador. It was then a rocky shore, well wooded almost to the waterline, and while they were at Halifax those settlers would have learned that the Mi'kmaq were unfriendly, and the Acadians cool. French power was not so far away, at Louisbourg and in Québec. It took toughness and courage, as well as faith, to start this place. The founding fathers and mothers of Lunenburg were equal to the task.

Before we imagine that our ancestors were all saints or heroes, let's not forget that there were those who endangered the enterprise by grabbing other people's share of lumber and nails. Let's not ignore the fact that among the settlers were runaway apprentices; people who had left by night and by fog, as the German records put it. One or two may have left an awkward spouse behind, or have been covering their trail from an embarrassing past by giving a false name and place of origin. This proves simply that human nature then is human nature now, and we ought not to judge the many by the worst few. There would be the rebellion of December 1753 to show what can happen when credulous and unlettered people are manipulated by a clever rogue, but the affair was quickly over and the perpetrator, after serving jail time, left the province forever.

The town grew. The people multiplied and filled their 30-acre farms and their 300-acre wood lots. One church, then two, then three, graced the early town. Some schooling was available from an early date, and Lunenburgers took seats in the Assembly from its beginning in 1758. Thanks to hard work, seaweed and good husbandry, fields grew up where rocks and trees had stood, and people were fed. In time, many turned to the sea and made this the most famous Bluenose port, even before the famed schooner showed the world's best its stern.

But this place is more than a schooner or sauerkraut, more than scenery or a dialect, more than even all those good things. It is our Heimat, a German word that speaks volumes. It is the place of heart and hearth, home and roots. Here is where we belong. We can look anybody in the eye and say: our people planted our roots here 250 years ago, and here we are in witness. God grant another 250 years and I'Il bet our descendants will gather to give thanks, and praise our founders. Perhaps this monument will stand here to show that we, in our day, remembered. I say be proud, be happy and be thankful. This is a moment to celebrate and remember. Thank you.


Jane Margaret Bailly was the first child born in Lunenburg.
Her life and times were eloquently portrayed by Leisha Wagner.
Her presentation began away from the microphone
and only those close to her could understand what was being said.
Following cries of "Use the microphone", she stepped up to it and said
"Vas ist dis ting? Ich do it nicht recognize."
She continued in German accent and spoke extemporariously for a considerable time.

photo - Lana Veinotte

Then it was time to unveil the new Monument.

photo - Lana Veinotte

The holding pins were released ...

photo - Ken Hubley

... as chocks under a ship about to be ....

photo - Ken Hubley

... completely launched.

photo - Ken Hubley

Then the New Monument was dedicated by Lt.(N) Rev. Brian Wentzell
followed by Rev. James Dauphinee's rededication of the Montbeliard Monument.

photo - Barb Peart

photo - Lana Veinotte

The ceremonies then being over, everyone rushed forward to get a good look.

photo - Chris Young


A closeup of the inscription ...

photo - Ken Hubley

... and of the medallion.

photo - Ken Hubley

A sample of how the over 400 names are portrayed.

photo - Ken Hubley

Sandra Town with the full monument

photo - submitted by Sandra Town

Here are the four indivdiual panels

photo - submitted by Muriel Fitzsimmons

photo - submitted by Muriel Fitzsimmons

Muriel Fitzsimmons with brother Fred Lantz

photo - submitted by Muriel Fitzsimmons

photo - submitted by Muriel Fitzsimmons

Pam is saying "That guy is my illegitimate cousin!"

photo - submitted by Pam Wile

photo - Marlene Hewitt


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