Back to Black Loyalist Home Page Black Loyalists: Our Story, Our People Canada's Digital Collections

Home: Our Story: Arrival: Landfall

Our Story
Loyalists Now
Arrival go backgo upgo to next Shelter

The initial evacuation fleet arrived in Nova Scotia in late May of 1783. About half of these went to Port Roseway, including nearly all of the first Black Loyalists.

The area had been lightly settled by French Acadians and some New Englanders earlier in the century, but on the whole the land had hardly been touched at all. The area is naturally rocky, the soil acidic and pebbly, and at the time the entire region was covered in thick forest. Most of the white settlers were town merchants and artisans who had never before cut a tree or dug a foundation, much less worked on such rough, unbroken terrain.

Almost at once arguments ensued. The proposal to settle Roseway Harbour had been developed by the Port Roseway Associates, and they strongly wished to hold a monopoly on the distribution of land and power in general. Many of the associates argued with the surveyors that some better piece of land must be available on the harbour, and they insisted on delaying work until they had explored the area. Marston and Morris, the chief surveyors, were harshly critical of the group as a whole in comments entered in their private journals.

Soon after the work had begun, the blacks began performing the majority of the brute labour. Most of them had experience as military engineers in the Black Pioneers regiment, and had thus done plenty of tree cutting and earth moving. Among the whites, on the other hand, most had never even worked on a farm. This earned them the respect of the surveyors, but not the Associates. They were excluded from it's meetings, which became a problem as they assumed the responsibility of organizing land distribution.

Most of the blacks had still not arrived however, and it was decided that a new settlement should be made for them on the northeast arm of the harbour - to be named Birchtown in honour of their protector in New York.

Arrival go backgo upgo to next Shelter
Picture of Sailing Ships
Huge fleets of sailing ship arrived with their cargo of refugees all through the summer of 1783.

Search the Site

No Frames Please


Benjamin Marston


Marston's Journal