1605 - Mathieu Dacosta
(Dacosta is a Portuguese word meaning "man of the coast"). Mathieu Dacosta was
a Black seaman involved with French Expedition at Port Royal. As a freeman he
was recorded as an interpreter of the French and Micmac languages at a time
when the Acadians were developing a fur-trade industry along the Atlantic sea
coast. He was the first recorded black man to reach Canada.
1749 - Halifax
Some Black people also were enslaved in the province prior to and after the
founding of Halifax in 1749 by Lord Cornwallis, who had slaves of his own.
Documents indicate servants and runaways were in the area; "Slave Sale"
advertisements and "Wanted Slave" posters are evidence of this.
The "American War of Independence" began and finished. Lord Dunbar made a
proclamation that every black slave to cross over to the British side of the
line would be declared free. The Black Loyalists were many of these, due to
their loyalty to Britain during the Revolutionary War. Some 3500 free men,
women and children arrived on Nova Scotia/New Brunswick shores. In a 1767
census, 104 people of African origin were listed out of a Nova Scotia
population of 13,374. In contrast, the Scots numbered only 52!
1783-1792 - Freetown
Stopping points of the Black Loyalists were Shelburne, Annapolis, Halifax and
Saint John, N.B. These people encountered tremendous difficulties and beat
formidable odds. However, poor treatment and unjust land distribution did
prompt some 1196 individuals, including influential leaders, to relocate on
January 15, 1792 to Sierra Leone, West Africa. There they established the
settlement of Freetown. This was a British controlled solution to a desperate
situation that eased the tension on the crown.
1796 - Maroons
Approximately 550 exiled Jamaican Maroons arrived (militant leaders) aboard
three small ships: "The Dover", "The Mary", and "The Ann", and settled in
HalifaxCounty. They would come to provide labor as well as military
reinforcements. Some were put to work on Citadel Hill reconstructing Fort
George, while others served on Governor Wentworth Farm. Just four years later
after experiencing extreme hardship and intolerance, they asked for and
received permission to relocate. The majority of the Maroons left and sailed
to Freetown, Sierra Leone. However, a few did stay in Nova Scotia and
descendants exist in the Halifax area today.
1812-1816 - Black refugees
In 1812, the war between Britain and the United States of America began. After
the war ended in 1814, approximately 2,000 Black refugees, loyal to Britain,
were evacuated via Washington (Chesapeake Bay), to Nova Scotia and New
Brunswick. This arrival had a number of complications and eventually they were
left to provide for their own existence after much of the land distribution
was unfairly divided. However, through it all they survived and prospered. The
largest settlements were established in Preston, Hammonds Plains, Beechville,
Africville, Lucasville and Sackville areas. The majority of African-Nova
Scotians today are descendants from this group. Some popular Nova Scotian
family names include Carvery, Smith, Crawley, Diggs, Wyse, Grant, Cromwell,
Bundy, Johnston, Johnson, Saunders, Sparks, Boyds, Beals and Downey.
The final wave of immigrants to arrive came from the Caribbean lands during
this time. Most originated from Barbados and were employed as migrant laborers
in the steel making industry of Sydney, Cape Breton, N.S. The number of people
vary, however approximately 300 resettled during this period. Descendants
today still keep the cultural connections alive.
In conclusion African-Canadians have a rich and diverse history and heritage
which has been long standing in this province. Our strong faith in God and
hard work have been beneficial for Nova Scotia's development.
Afro-Nova Scotian Communities
14. Granville Ferry
18. Gibson Woods
21. Three Mile Plains
23. Hammonds Plains
26. Cobequid Road
26B. Maroon Hill
29/30. LakeLoon & Cherry Brook
31. North Preston
32. East Preston
37. New Glasgow
41. Upper Big Tracadie
44. North Sydney
46. New Waterford
47. Glace Bay