Our last full day here in the Maritimes. There is a sense of sadness as we prepare to say good bye. Tam, Bill, and Rebecca have been awesome hosts. We don't get to see them that often. But they will be out in July. Besides life at home beckons us. We had a relatively relaxing day planned. That all changed this morning at breakfast. It was decided that we should go to Lunenburg. I was quite excited about this for a number of reasons.
I had been researching a bit about my Huguenot history. I had relearned (because my sister has probably told me a number of times) that my Montbeliard ancestors had lived in Lunenburg. This made it (like Sydney) one of my ancestral homes. Lunenburg is also the home of the Bluenose. I had seen it back in 1972 and thought it would be quite cool to see it again.
Once we arrived in Lunenburg two other reasons became quite apparent. On our way there Bill had told us that Lunenburg had been designated a world heritage site. Once we arrived we discovered the bonus of this. The town is bright and clean. The buildings down by the water are old and colourful. I loved it!!! And yes, as you can see in the first picture, I discovered another purple house.
The highlight of the trip, both today and maybe of the entire two weeks, was St. John's Anglican Church. I knew about this church from when it hit the news in 2001 because of a fire. I knew it was a historical building. I was not prepared for the experience of seeing it. Absolutely amazing. St. John's is the second oldest Protestant church in Canada. It is about 260 years old. On Hallowe'en night 2001 it was basically destroyed by fire. The roof was totally gone. The fire, smoke and water damage to the rest of the building was extensive. The congregation made the decision to restore the building. It was painstaking work that took 4 years.
There was a young person at the open door to greet us as we entered. This young person provided me with a number of stories about the restoration. Original materials were used as much as possible. I watched some of the work that was done on a video on the internet after I got home. They would use the re-usable wood from something and blend/strengthen it with new wood. It was actually a fascinating process. The workers were mainly local crafts people. Even the pillars are wood painted to look like marble. The floors and pews are the original ones although portions of the floor had to be replaced.
I looked around at the beautiful stain glass windows. Being the child of another church devastated by fire - not once but twice in the mid-seventies and early eighties - I knew what fire could do to these windows. I asked about their restoration. I was told that each window had as much of the original glass of the window as possible. The stain glass window on the right (the sunshine does not allow for a great picture) is a little more yellowish than the others. This is because they were able to use seventy per cent of the original glass.
Char marks on the altar and the tabernacle were pointed out. It took six firemen to rescue the altar from the fire. When the church was restored and they held the first service, those same six firemen were asked to be present and (I think) carry it inside.
The most interesting story was about the stars on the chancel ceiling. They hired an artist to repaint the ceiling as it had been originally. As she started the project working from pictures she noticed that these stars were not placed as randomly as people thought. She approached an astronomer from St. Mary's University in Halifax. With a bit of intuition and digging he discovered what the star pattern was. The pattern was that of the sky over Lunenburg on December 24 of year 1. In other words, had people been in Lunenburg looking through uncovered rafters of St. John's on the night we celebrate as the birth date of Christ, the star pattern that is in the chancel now is what they would have seen. Today that pattern is easy to discover because we can use computer programs. Heaven only knows how the original artist discovered it. Some believe the artist was guided by God's hand.
One other thing - of interest to me if no one else - my ancestors were most likely Lutheran. In the beginning, when St. John's was established, they would have worshiped here. There was no other church. That is a neat feeling - to be standing in a building knowing that one's ancestors had also stood there, maybe even walking on the same spots. The church was designed to make it more welcoming to the Lutheran members. However, they decided to build their own building and left St. John's.
Love and Prayers,