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Birchtown’s remains

The Story

The Book of Negroes blends the freedom of fiction and the constraints of historical fact. The protagonist, Aminata Diallo, is sent to Canada in 1783 as a reward for supporting the British during the American Revolution. There she settles in the black ghetto known as "Birchtown" on the outskirts of Shelburne, N.S. As we see in this 1999 CBC Television clip, historians and architects are still keeping an eye out for artifacts from the site of this early settlement.

Medium: Television
Program: 1st Edition
Broadcast Date: April 27, 1999
Guests: Ken Brown, Wallace Webb
Reporter: Angela Johnson
Duration: 3:51

Did You know?

• Birchtown was founded by Black Loyalists in 1783 and grew to over 1,500 people at its height three years later. In 1791 half the black population of the area left for Halifax en route to Sierra Leone, Africa.

• Black Loyalists came to Canada because of the promise of freedom and farmland. Fewer than 15 per cent of them were given any land, and most were condemned to a life of hardship and poverty.

• In the fall of 1993 the Shelburne County Cultural Awareness Society (later called the Black Loyalist Historical Society) sponsored an archaeological survey of the Birchtown area.

• A 1996 plaque memorializing the original Birchtown settlers ends with the words, "Although diminished in numbers, Birchtown remains a proud symbol of the struggle by blacks in the Maritimes and elsewhere for justice and dignity."

• Birchtown is no longer a black community.



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