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St. Norbert's Roman Catholic Church

121 York Street, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, B0J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1999/08/26

St. Norbert's Church, Old Town Lunenburg, front façade, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Front façade
St. Norbert's Church, Old Town Lunenburg, cemetery and west wing, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Cemetery and west wing
St. Norbert's Church, Old Town Lunenburg, front entrance and nave, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Front entrance and nave

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1839/01/01 to 1839/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/01/18

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

St. Norbert's Roman Catholic Church is an ell-shaped wooden church in the Georgian style. It is situated on the corner of York and King Streets in Old Town Lunenburg, a Heritage Conservation District. The steeple is particularly worth noting, as the shape is reminiscent of a witch's hat. Designation extends to both the building and surrounding property, including a small cemetery adjacent to the church.

Heritage Value

St. Norbert's Roman Catholic Church is valued for both its historical and aesthetic character. Built in 1839, St. Norbert's is the centre of the Roman Catholic community in Lunenburg. In the 1890s, the dwindling number of parishioners caused St. Norbert's to close its doors for forty years. However, in the 1930s, an influx of Catholic fishermen from Newfoundland arrived in Lunenburg, and the church was reopened. Since that time, the congregation has grown steadily, and in 1982 a wing was added to the side of the church, designed to match the original structure.

The church's scale, wooden exterior and proximity to the street blend with the surrounding streetscape. St. Norbert's is a fine example of Georgian ecclesiastical architecture, blending both British and New England elements. Sometime after 1890 the original tower was shortened to today's form, a distinctive 'witch's hat' shape with ornamental modillions surrounding the lower edge. A small cemetery is located immediately beside the building, to the west, on York Street. It is the only cemetery left on church property in Lunenburg.

Source: Heritage Designation File 66400-40-48, Town of Lunenburg

Character-Defining Elements

The character of this site is defined by the building's era and style, its significance as part of the Lunenburg streetscape, and its role in the religious history of Lunenburg. Elements include:

- the green space and close proximity of lawn, cemetery and church, including the only intact cemetery on church property in Lunenburg;
- the scale and mass of the building, including symmetrically placed buttresses on both the nave and additional ell, and the proximity of the church to the street;
- traditional Gothic elements, including the gable roof over the nave, lancet windows on the nave, and round headed, louvred windows on the tower;
- the steeple, in a shape reminiscent of a 'witch's hat', with ornamental modillions;
- the wooden shingle exterior, characteristic of the Lunenburg area, and bracketing detail under the eaves.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions
Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Town of Lunenburg, 119 Cumberland Street, P.O. Box 129, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, B0J 2C0

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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