On the shores of the Bedford Basin, on the northern edge of peninsular Halifax, lies Africville. It was a very vibrant place to grow up from the mid 1700’s until the relocation in the 1960’s. The first people to live in Africville were free Blacks who had escaped slavery by pledging allegiance to Britain during American’s War of Independence. A larger group, called the Black refugees, came during the War 1812.
Africville was a self-sustaining community that thrived in spite of the harshest opposition. Despite paying municipal taxes and years of petition, residents lived without the services taken for granted by others, including water, sewage, police presence or paved roads. While other parts of the City received investments to modernize and renew, the isolated community of Africville was left to ruin.
Industrialization soon began to encroach on the community as railway after railway started running through the area. Facilities unwanted by other communities — a prison, a slaughterhouse and an infectious disease hospital to name a few — were located in and around Africville.
Each new fixture meant the expropriation of hard-earned land from those who were the rightful owners. The final result of 150 years of unequal opportunity arrived in 1962, when Halifax City Council expropriated the land entirely and the residents were removed.
The loss of Africville is immense. Today, a replica of the church has been built and transformed into a museum to tell the story of Africville and to inform the public on the present status of the community. At Africville, you will learn an important part of Canadian history, and become aware of the global connections of this historical free Black community.