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Almost as soon as Port Roseway had been chosen as the site of a major Loyalist refugee settlement, plans were made for a separate settlement of free blacks nearby on the northwest arm of the harbour.

When Stephen Blucke arrived in June of 1783, the chief surveyor for Port Roseway, Benjamin Marston, took Blucke to show him the site of the proposed settlement. At that time, Marston wrote that Blucke was pleased with the site, with the clear implication that nobody else had been.

A modern viewer might wonder how Blucke justified his choice. Although Birchtown is a gorgeous location, it is eminently unsuitable as farmland, which was the original intention for the community. The brooks that flow into the bay are less than navigable, even in a boat as small as a kayak. The entire area is strewn with rocks, but Birchtown Bay is especially rocky. Just a few hundred yards behind the water's edge is a large area of swampy bush.

Still, Colonel Blucke's company of Black Pioneers was soon settled on the water's edge. By the time serious work began it was late summer, and many of the shelters were hastily built. Not only were most of the blacks unaccustomed to northern climates, but their shelters were certainly not fit for a Canadian winter.

By the spring of 1784, most of the early settlers had each been granted a couple of acres. There was trouble in the air though. Many of the white settlers had received a town lot, but not their promised 50 acre farm lots, and they soon came up with an expedient solution. They hired a surveyor of their own, and for the price of two pounds apiece, he surveyed out the entire western shore of the harbour. At the northern tip, these lots took out approximately one third of Birchtown (as well as the entire proposed Pilot's Town). Marston was angered by this intrusion of his authority, and quickly did what he could to have the grant stopped.

Even as one threat to their land was stopped, another arose. Hamilton (Hartz) Point, to the east, was granted as Anglican Church glebe land. Land to the north was granted to white settlers, and soon after, land on the west shore, and to the northwest of the harbour. Birchtown was encircled by white land, making convenient farms an impossibility.

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Map Of Birchtown area
Birchtown is at the northwest tip of Shelburne harbour.

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Stephen Blucke

Benjamin Marston




Surveying Birchtown

Attempt to steal Birchtown's land