Africville reunion drawing American tourists

The Africvillle reunion, happening this week in Halifax, is drawing in some unexpected visitors--people without a direct connection to the history there.

The annual three-day picnic is held every July

Irvine Carvery hopes to be seeing more tourists seeking to learn about Africville's history. (CBC)

This weekend's Africville reunion is drawing American tourists following the Underground Railroad, in addition to family and friends of the community. 

The annual three-day gathering brings together people who lived in Africville, their descendants and relatives.

This year, the event is bringing in tourists with no direct connections to Africville, apart from a common interest. About eight visitors from Chicago, Houston and Oakland are in Halifax to learn about African Nova Scotian history. 

Many heard about the gathering on Arif Khatib's California-based podcast. He's also in town and broadcast from Africville this week

Irvine Carvery, president of the AfricvilleGenealogy Society, showed many of the visitors around Africville

He grew up in Uniacke Square, the public housing project where some Africville residents lived after their community was bulldozed.

“It's really rewarding for me to have strangers in Africville who really appreciate the friendliness and the sense of community here in Africville,” said Carvery. “This is very, very, special.”   

Hallowed ground

LaRita and Fad Wilson, both American, have travelled across the continent for the Africville reunion to learn about the Underground Railroad that took black people held as slaves to freedom.

Lester Griffin, a tourist from South Carolina, where slavery once thrived, came to Halifax to see Africville. (CBC)

“It's almost like what I considered hallowed ground because these people blazed a trail where there was no trail,” said Fad Wilson.

Lester Griffin, a tourist from South Carolina, where slavery once thrived, said the experience was definitely positive.

“I feel that I need to do something. I want to learn more and education is key.”

Carvery hopes this experiment in Africville tourism is the start of something new for the annual gathering.