The Lunenburg Connection
You may be surprised to learn how much fact hides behind the fiction in the Jamie Poole series. For example, take this reference to a church in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
Let’s set the stage: An astroarchaeologist is someone who studies how people of the past understood the sky: stars, constellations, et cetera. When Jamie and her dad find a star map, they seek the help of Tom Sutherland, an astroarchaeologist.
Upon studying it, he states about the map:
“Without the aid of a telescope, he accurately detailed most constellations and single stars seen in the night sky from his vantage. You might imagine this was impossible before the computer age, but it’s not. Have I ever mentioned the church in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia? Now there’s an astral mystery. In 2001 St. John’s Anglican Church burned down. Arson. When they went to restore the church which had been built in 1754—such a sin that beautiful building burned!—they discovered a mystery. When they went to restore the stars that had been painted over the altar using photographs of the original interior, it occurred to them they’d been strategically painted. They began to grow suspicious there was a secret in the stars. The original designer knew the explanation, but it hadn’t been documented and had been forgotten with time. So they contacted an astronomer mate of mine at Saint Mary’s Uni in Halifax…” (The Isle of Osiris)
While the story continues on to explain the mysterious star map, this blog returns where Tom left off: St. John’s Anglican Church.
It’s real. Everything Tom mentions is real.
An astronomer indeed made the discovery as stated. If you’d like to see the news release on it. Click here.
It was an easy decision to use a real detail to support a fictional point about a star map. The amazing part is how they figured it out. When the church burned down, a considerable amount of the church was destroyed, but surprisingly, a lot was preserved as well. Since the church is from 1754 and was restored to its original state, it’s well worth the visit to this amazing city full of ancient buildings. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site after all.
The church was built during the French and Indian War using wood salvaged from an older disassembled church. Here are a few pictures from the church, including the restored interior. What is interesting to note is where wood could be preserved, it was put back into place. Where pillars were scorched but not destroyed, they endure. The scorch marks can be seen today. Where the floor was singed, it was returned in place. Beneath the church is a crypt containing 20 people, the oldest dating to right after the church’s construction. Undisturbed.
A lot was lost. A lot remains. And, through remarkable restoration, visitors can still appreciate the craftsmanship of the original builders from the 1700s and the love and care that went into the restoration.
As sad as it is to have lost the original building, it is amazing to learn one of the secrets it hid.