Black history society marks 200th anniversary of HMS Regulus
Ship arriving in Saint John brought 371 former slaves who fled United States after War of 1812
Monday marked the 200th anniversary of the arrival of a ship full of black refugees to New Brunswick.
The ship HMS Regulus arrived in Saint John in 1815 with 371 black men, women and children.
The refugees were escaped and liberated slaves who were fleeing the United States at the end of the War of 1812 after seeking protection from the British army during the war.
Mary Louise McCarthy, the society's president, says many of the refugees settled in communities, such as Willow Grove outside of Saint John.
But they struggled with disease, political rights, employment and acquiring the land they had been promised.
"And what they were met with was they had no housing, they had no financial money to barter or wares to barter," said McCarthy.
"So they were looking for land and a place to support their family."
The society has been working on the story since forming five years ago and has now launched its own website where the group will post and update their findings.
"So we're hoping with the website that we're going to reach more people," said McCarthy.
The society's work helped Marsha McGarvie find the name of her grandfather and an uncle on a list of those buried in the Black Settlement Burial Ground in Willow Grove.
With the society's findings now online, McGarvie said she hopes the province's black history will get more attention.
"It's time," she said.
"It's been a long time in coming. But I think now more people have been exposed to it, it's up to us to keep it in the forefront and make sure that it's part of our history that's taught to children in school."
The society will commemorate the refugees again in August at the Black Settlement Burial Ground.