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History African American

Birchtown and the Black Loyalist Experience

From 1775 to the present

by (author) Stephen Davidson

photographs by Peter Zwicker

Formac Publishing Company Limited
Initial publish date
May 2019
African American, Atlantic Provinces, General, Black Studies (Global)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2019
    List Price

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This book chronicles experiences of African Americans who were part of the influx of Loyalist refugees from the American Revolution. The Black Loyalists were both freed and enslaved Black Americans who had joined the British side. For their loyalty, they were evacuated by the British Navy to Nova Scotia, where they were to receive freedom, land, and provisions.

The Black Loyalists landed at a settlement named Birchtown, adjoining the white Loyalist town of Shelburne. On arrival they found virtually no shelter. Many died and others only survived by digging small holes in the ground and fixing logs over top for makeshift huts. Food was extremely scarce. White Loyalists quickly received their land and provisions. It was years before the Black Loyalists received their land grants, and not everyone got a plot. The lands provided proved to be rocky and hard to cultivate.

Ultimately many Black Loyalists chose to leave Nova Scotia to go to Sierra Leone, West Africa, founding a new settlement there. Others remained, and their descendants are found in communities across Nova Scotia and beyond.

Through images, artifacts, and text, this book tells the story of Birchtown and its residents as well as the larger story of Black Loyalist history, reflecting the research and exhibits in the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown.

About the authors

STEPHEN DAVIDSON, an educator with over three decades of experience, has taught in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and the Czech Republic. As a writer, historian, and consultant, Stephen has authored over 600 articles related to the United Empire Loyalists and Loyalist history, and has served as Contributor and Consultant for numerous magazines, genealogical publications and newspapers. He is the author of The Burdens of Loyalty and a contributor to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Stephen lives in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia

Stephen Davidson's profile page

PETER ZWICKER is a professional photographer based in Lunenburg, the home port of Bluenose II, and is on the board of The Lunenburg Marine Museum Society — a volunteer group that operates the Bluenose II for the province of Nova Scotia.

Peter Zwicker's profile page