When Farley Blackman and his wife Courtney opened their Montague Street gallery on September 3 they spotted a message. Spray painted on the pavement in front of Lunenburg's dis.cord gal.ler.y and stu.di.o were the words "go away."
Blackman said the graffiti was "hurtful" and is calling on town officials to take a stand against such attitudes.
The couple, who own a number of properties in town, are both from the U.S. and divide their time between Lunenburg and London, England. They reported the incident to police and paid to have the graffiti removed.
"After being a seasonal resident for 13 years and after investing substantial sums of money and time into protecting and preserving the heritage of the town it is quite disheartening and hurtful," said Blackman in an email.
He continued, "the good news is the vast majority of those who call Lunenburg home do not subscribe to such nonsense. Regardless of that, there is an undercurrent however small that perpetuates the 'CFA' moniker without fully comprehending the damage being done."
Blackman received a number of comments of support on the gallery's Facebook page this weekend, after a photograph of the graffiti was posted.
Andrew Button, owner of Mashup Lab and C03 in Bridgewater wrote, "Saddened to see this in our community. A stark reminder of the work we need to do if we are going to attract (and KEEP!) people and businesses to our community."
Erin Donovan said, "Paint the word 'smiling' after and a big smiley face? Sorry guys, this so rotten."
Kimberley A. Hanion said simply, "Unacceptable."
Lunenburg's mayor Rachel Bailey told LighthouseNOW she was unaware of the graffiti, but described it as "garbage" and "unwelcome."
"I'm very sorry that that appeared at Mr. Blackman's gallery, and I'm at a loss to explain or understand it, quite frankly," she said. "It's not typical of what we see. Graffiti is not common place in Lunenburg, so it is very unfortunate and concerning for sure."
While the mayor said she didn't feel the incident was indicative of widely held sentiments that people from beyond Lunenburg are not welcome, she said such attitudes would be discouraged.
"Any time that something is done to single out an individual or a business, no matter who they are, where they come from or how long they've been here, or what their skin colour or what their religion, or anything else that is discriminatory, certainly we would take steps to ensure that that kind of behavior is discouraged," she said.
Bailey added that since she was only just made aware of the incident, she was unable to say what those steps would be.
Blackman ended his email by saying it's up to town council to lead the way.
"Lunenburg is a great town, in a great province, in a great country," he wrote. "Ultimately there is no stopping the progress that diversity and inclusion bring. It is time for the elected leadership of Lunenburg and the most senior non-elected officials to lead the town into a bright future and leave small-minded prejudices in the past. By ignoring or dismissing the contribution of those from away, they are by default supporting ignorance."