Remembering Black Loyalists, Black Communities in Nova Scotia
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The Story

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Recovering the History

any people, including descendants of these early settlers, do not know the origins of Black Loyalist communities and families in Nova Scotia. Although some people recorded family events in their Bibles or kept community accounts, the origins were largely forgotten throughout the 1800s and 1900s. As one descendant put it, "We didn't have time to look for our history; we were too busy trying to survive."

  Brownspriggs Land Grant detail
  The Brownspriggs land grant
Detail, c. 1787
Nova Scotia Archives and
Records Management

Interest in Black history increased in the 1970s. In 1983, with the marking of the 200th anniversary of the Loyalist arrival in Nova Scotia, Black Nova Scotians made public claim to their part in the early settlement of the province. Now the story of the Black Loyalists is being recovered through the work of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, the Brownspriggs Historical Society, and the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, among others, as people gather information from oral histories, land grant records, deeds, census records, wills, church records and archaeological data.

Excavation at the Acker site detail  
Excavation at the Acker site,
Birchtown, c.1998
Photo Credit: Richard Plander,
Learning Resources & Technology.
Nova Scotia Museum.
 

As part of the research carried out by the Nova Scotia Museum in 1998, during the project "Remembering Black Loyalists, Black Communities", archaeologists located sites, associated with early Black Loyalist settlers, within the original 1787 Brownspriggs Grant area in what are now Antigonish and Guysborough Counties.

Also in 1998, archaeologists carried out a detailed excavation in search of Stephen Blucke's house in Birchtown. The archaeologists "revealed the cellar of a relatively substantial building that appears to have been abandoned by the end of the eighteenth century. The artifacts recovered were exceptional for what we know of the Black Loyalist period in Birchtown, not only because of their quantity but their quality as well." (Niven, 2000, 11).

This work, coupled with that of historians, archaeologists, and ethnologists across North America, is helping us to understand this incredible part of our history.


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