About 3,500 Blacks fled to what is now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
at the close of the American Revolution. They had fought for Britain in
return for freedom. Once in the Maritimes, they were cheated of land,
forced to work on public projects such as roads and buildings and
denied equal status.
The Black Loyalists arrived in Nova Scotia between 1783 & 1785 as a
result of the American Revolution. They were the largest group of
people of African descent to come to Nova Scotia at any one time.
When Sir Henry Clinton issued the Phillipsburg proclamation, it stated
that any Negro to desert the rebel cause would receive full
protection, freedom, and land. It is estimated that many thousands of
people of African descent joined the British and became British
Between April and November 1783,114 ships were inspected in New
York harbor. An unknown number of ships left New York and other ports
before and after these dates.
Over 3,000 Black Loyalist were enrolled in the Book of Negroes, but
perhaps as many as 5, 00 Black people left New York for Nova Scotia,
the West Indies, Quebec, England, Germany and Belgium.
The Black Loyalist were landed at Port Roseway (now Shelburne)
Birchtown, Port Mouton, Annapolis, Fort Cumberland, Halifax, and Saint
John, New Brunswick.
Exodus to Africa: 1,190 men, women and children left Halifax on 15
ships for the long voyage to Sierra Leone. Sixty-five died en route.
In 1796 about 600 Jamaican Maroons from Trelawney Town were
deported from Jamaica to Nova Scotia following their rebellion
against the colonial government. The Jamaican government tired of
the cost of maintaining order, had decided to rid themselves of "the
Immediate actions were put in place for the removal of one group of
Maroons (Trelawney) to Lower Canada (Quebec); Upper Canada
(Ontario) had also been suggested as a suitable place. However, it
was eventually decided that this group be sent to Halifax, Nova
Scotia, until any further instructions were received from England..
They faced miserable conditions and opted for Sierra Leone. They left
Halifax in 1800.
The winters of 1796-98 were very severe.
The Maroons suffered discomfort and
grew restive and angry at their situation.
In the spring of 1799, Governor
Wentworth felt obliged to dispatch
Captain Solomon and 50 men of the
Royal Nova Scotia Regiment to Preston
where they withheld supplies from the
most refractory so as to maintain order.
Meanwhile, Wentworth became
increasingly disillusioned with the
Maroons as settlers, and the money from
the Jamaican government for their
support was wearing very thin. The
Maroons were not in favour of the
suggested ways of supporting
themselves in Canada and seemed likely
to become a charge on the public purse.
Governor Wentworth, in accordance
with the demands of the
Maroons, concluded the best
resolution would be to remove them
from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone in
Although the majority of the Maroons
left Nova Scotia, there were a few
who remained: a census done in 1817
of the Black community of Tracadie in
Guysborough revealed that several
persons living there were
descendants of the Maroons. The
Maroons also left descendents in the
Preston Area of Halifax County.
Roughly 2,000 U.S. Blacks, refugees from the War of
1812, settled in the Maritimes.
Slavery officially abolished in the British Empire.
Hundreds of Caribbean immigrants, called the “later
arrivals,” flocked to Cape Breton to work in coal mines and
the steel factory.