Music in Lunenburg

Seaport community founded in 1753 on the south shore of Nova Scotia by German, Swiss, Huguenot, and British settlers at a site known previously as Malagash. In 1986 its population was 2972.

Lunenburg, NS

Lunenburg, NS. Seaport community founded in 1753 on the south shore of Nova Scotia by German, Swiss, Huguenot, and British settlers at a site known previously as Malagash. In 1986 its population was 2972.

A Harmonic Society was formed 5 Dec 1828 by 24 men who met weekly to sing church music. The society seems to have joined forces with the St John's Singing Society, organized 17 Dec 1830. These were two of the earliest music societies in Canada. As far as is known, musical education of the young began with a singing school established in the 1850s.

Otherwise, music in Lunenburg was centred in the churches during those early years. Congregational singing was led by a church leader or schoolmaster with the aid of a tuning-fork. M.B. DesBrisay's History of the County of Lunenburg (Toronto 1895) refers to excellent choirs in the county's churches where descendants of the original Germans gathered.

Band music began in 1837 with a fife and drum band organized by the First Artillery Co of the Lunenburg Militia and remained an important element of life in Lunenburg until the dissolution of the Lunenburg Citizens' Band in 1974.

Choral groups outside the church were slower to develop. The Lunenburg Male Choir was formed in 1929 by Pearl Young Oxner, and the Lunenburg Glee Club in 1930 under the direction of Doris (Mahoney) Baker. The latter gave many concerts and was heard nationally on the CBC. A girls' choral club was formed in 1937 at the Lunenburg Academy, where, under the direction of Pearl Oxner, students also mounted operettas annually 1938-63. Lunenburg is the birthplace of Diane Oxner. The town has been the site of the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, which began in 1986.


Further Reading

  • Oxner, Pearl. 'The progress of music in Lunenburg,' Lunenburg's Bicentennial 1753-1953 (Lunenburg 1953)

    Creighton, Helen. Folklore of Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia (Toronto 1976)

    Ullmann, Christiane. 'German folksongs of Lunenburg County, NS,' The German-Canadian Yearbook, vol 5 (Toronto 1979)

    Silver, B. 'Some music makers in Lunenburg County,' manuscript, Public Archives of NS

    'Lunenburg celebrates 236th birthday,' Progress Enterprise (NS), 14 Jun, 1989