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Not long after Port Roseway was founded, it was decided that a road should be built from Shelburne to Annapolis. Shelburne was isolated and had proven vulnerable to American privateers during the war. Nova Scotia's military was headquartered in Annapolis, directly on the opposite side of the province. A rough line was cut and work began on the road.

Unfortunately, labour and cash were short in both places. It was decided that all free men would be forced to work on the road and other similar public works projects. While any free white man would have to work 6 days a year, a self sufficient black worked two days a month. Poor whites had to work one day a week, but black poor were expected to work three days a week, the remainder of their time 'allowed for themselves towards a Subsistence'.

The road crew was supervised by Colonel Stephen Blucke. Blucke was the leader of the blacks in Birchtown, and his Pioneers Corps were almost the only paid employment available to Birchtown's blacks - and even that pay was minimal. With the understanding that the alternative was usually being auctioned off as an indentured servant (the usual punishment for vagrancy), working in the Corps was the only realistic option for many blacks.

This crucial road was abandoned within 30 years, and almost entirely overgrown.

This was not an isolated example. All over the province, blacks were discriminated against in public works projects. In Digby, they were forced to do public works to receive their rations, while no such conditions were ever placed on whites. In fact, the official appointed to oversee poor relief seemed to have pocketed a substantial portion of the rations allotted for the blacks there.

Communities go backgo upgo to next Prejudice
Image Credit: Tina Elliot
Black Men had to work long hours on road construction right through the winter in order to draw rations.

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Stephen Blucke


Proposal for Annapolis Road