Africville National Historic Site
Africville was designated a national historic site in 1997.
Commemorative plaque: 5795 Africville Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia
For over a century African Canadians settled here, developing an independent community centred around church and family. As part of the urban renewal projects of the 1960s, officials introduced a plan to level the community and relocate its residents. The community mobilized and even though no buildings were saved, Africville became a symbol of the ongoing struggle by African Canadians to defend their culture and their rights. Seaview Park, created on the site as a memorial to Africville, speaks to the enduring significance of community.
This plaque text describing the historical significance of the subject was approved by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 2001.
Description of historic place
Africville National Historic Site of Canada is a site of remembrance for Halifax’s African Canadian community. Once the location of a historic Black community, the houses were demolished in the 1960s and the land converted into municipally owned Seaview Park. Located at the north end of Barrington Street on Bedford Basin, below the A. Murray MacKay Bridge, Africville is a symbol of African Canadian community organization and a site of pilgrimage for people honouring the struggle against racism. The open landscape is marked by a sundial-shaped monument commemorating the former community. The designation refers to the landscape and its associated resources, including a few foundation remnants.
Africville was designated a national historic site of Canada because: prior to its relocation in the 1960s, this community was representative of Black settlement in Nova Scotia in its social organization and in its geographical and metaphorical position on the periphery of white society; with the emergence of a more politically conscious and confrontational spirit in Black culture, the clearance of Africville in the name of urban renewal became an enduring symbol to Black Canadians of the need for vigilance in defense of their institutions.
Africville was initially settled by African Canadians seeking employment in Halifax during in the 1830s and 1840s. The community grew during the 19th century with its own school and church, the Seaview African United Baptist Church. Over the years, the City of Halifax consistently denied the community municipal services and, during the urban renewal movement of the 1960s, undertook the clearance of the area. Despite protests, the community was dismantled and its members were relocated elsewhere in the city. A campaign for redress eventually emerged and Africville took on a symbolic identity, one which has persisted as representative of the need for pride and vigilant defense of Black institutions and traditions. As such it has served as a source of inspiration to other African Canadian communities and nurtured leaders of its own, including members of the Carvery family and the well-known defender of human rights, Burnley ''Rocky'' Jones. The city has developed the land into the Seaview municipal park (now named Africville Park) which has become an annual place of pilgrimage for the Africville Genealogical Society, an organization of former residents and their descendents.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1996.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- its location at the extreme north end of the city;
- its open landscape;
- the potential archaeological remnants of the former community;
- the commemorative sundial in its location, form and materials;
- the continued use of the site by the African Canadian community;
- continued public access to the site.
The National Program of Historical Commemoration relies on the participation of Canadians in the identification of places, events and persons of national historic significance. Any member of the public can nominate a topic for consideration by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
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