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Remembering Africville - Source Guide

Seaview Baptist Church, [1965?]Seaview United Baptist Church, 196?  102-16N-065.F-cropped from original

In February 2010, Mayor Peter Kelly formally apologized to the former residents of Africville. (see details of the Apology and Agreement).  In this Research Guide, the Municipal Archives highlights records that document the City's interaction with the small but hugely symbolic African Nova Scotian community on its "northern slope".

Municipal records tell part of the story of Africville's relationship with the City of Halifax. These records capture an image of our past as seen through the lens of municipal staff and officials, but also through the experience of citizens, as represented in letters, petitions, surveys, participation in committees and public hearings - these too are part of the municipal record. 

But city records are only part of Africville's story.  A fuller story of Africville is told through the many sources available; some recorded, some passed from generation to generation, some still being created.  See below for links to Sources at Other Repositories.  The Africville Story lives on.

Historical Municipal Sources on Africville

The Municipal Archives provides access to many records and secondary sources about Africville.  View some samples of the records here - others can be scanned by request - all can be viewed at the Archives.  Click on each source for more details.  Fullest details are in the Archives Database.

City Council Minutes and Submissions, 1841-1996 (102-1A&B)

The City's interaction with the community of Africville leaves a trail of evidence in City Council minutes.  From the first mention of Africville in 1867, to petitions for better services (such as in 1895 for water service on the Campbell Road), to Regional Council's historic reparation agreement in 2010, Council minutes help track the demand for public services in Africville, the City's response, public health and welfare issues, urban renewal plans, expropriation negotiations, relocation issues, and finally the struggle for reparations.

1909 Petition for a Community Well for Africville

1909 Petition to Council for a Community Well

Click on image to view the entire1909 petition to Council for a community well signed by Africville residents J. Edward Dixon, E. Carvery, William Howe, Edward Dixon, Walter Thomas, William Howe, William Carvery, James Hamilton, James Dixon, William Mantley, Alfred Carvery, Arthur Dixon, John Byers, Alexander Carvery, Jacob Turner, John Barron, Alex Carvery, Allen Dixon, Isaac Mantley, John Brown, George Dixon, Fred Byers, Fin Roan and Dave Byers.  Report to Council includes the City Engineer's response and the Committee on Works recommendation to undertake the work, which was approved by Council on Sept. 23, 1909. 

[HRM Archives file 102-1B-1909-09-23.363]

Sample of Council minutes re. Africville from the 1960s

Halifax Advisory Committee on Human Rights records, 1954-2004, (CR 5)

Minutes, reports, correspondence, surveys and newsclippings from this volunteer citizens' group which was formed in 1962 to act as an advisory committee for the interests of the people of Africville and to monitor and protect their rights during the relocation of Africville by the City of Halifax in the 1960s. Donated by committee members Gus Wedderburn and Donald Maclean.

Mail Star clipping Sept. 13, 1963

(click on article to view .pdf file) [from file CR 5.20]

 

BACK TO LIST OF SOURCES

Examples from files:

  • 1963 statement presented from the Advisory Committee to City Council stating that extraordinary measures were needed for Africville, and recommending Dr. Rose be hired to study the community

 

CR 5.21 - (click to view .pdf file)

  • 1963 letter from Alan Borovoy, well-known civil rights activist, then executive secretary of the Toronto Distirct Labour Committee for Human Rights, offering strategic advice to the Halifax Advisory Committee on Human Rights

CR 5.20 - (click to view .pdf file)

City Manager's Office correspondence files:

Africville, 1954-1965 (102-4A.5) Africville Lands, 1969-1971 (102-4A.124) Africville, Ex-Africville Residents, 1968 (102-4A.129)

[102-4A.5.D8620] - (pdf) Copy of Development Officer R.B. Grant's 1962 response to questions raised by Africville residents at initial discussions about relocation and expropriation.

102-4A.5.2

Aerial view of northern suburbs: part of photo published in Halifax Mail Star, July 1954 from City Manager's Africville file 102-4A.5

Redevelopment Committee's Africville Sub-committee records, 1963-1968 (102-42C)

Minutes, correspondence and reports of the sub-committee which advised Council on how to implement the relocation of Africville residents.

Photographs of Africville 

  • A compilation of images of Africville from four different series: Engineering and Works Department photographs (102-39-1), Halifax Police Department photographs (102-16N), Safety Committee Minutes (102-38-1), and Halifax Fire Department photographs (102-111-4). The views include several houses in Africville and the Africville area (Round the Bend), the Seaview Baptist Church, Tibby's Pond, and the City Dump. The images are ordered chronologically although precise dates for many are not known. If you can identify any of the houses in the images or when the photographs were taken, please contact the Archives: archives@halifax.ca.

City Clerk's Office reference file on Africville, 1965-1994

102-5-1-44 - 14MB pdf- click to view scanned copies of newsclippings, reports, minutes, including a chronology of Council minutes related to Africville from 1962-1966 and an overview of Africville history written by Don Clairmont in 1990.

The Master Plan for the City of Halifax

Civic Planning Commission, 1945  (711.45.H17)

The City of Halifax's first effort at planning, recommends removal of "Africville Settlement", providing residents "with a decent minimum standard of housing elsewhere" , and residential development of the Northern Slope of the city.

The section dealing with Africville is section IV Proposal 14.

 

1945 Master Plan

(click on the cover page to view pdf of Master Plan)

 

 

A redevelopment study of Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1957 prepared for City Council by Gordon Stephenson (711.45 .S8)

The Stephenson Report recommended a programme of urban renewal for Halifax including removal of the Africville "slum".

 

 

1957Stephenson Report

(click on image to view pdf (11MB) of Report)

Report of a visit to Halifax with a particular respect to Africville by Dr. Albert Rose, 1963, City of Halifax Council submission,  Dec. 12, 1963, 102-1B.  

The Rose Report recommended expropriation with full compensation and assistance with relocation.  It was ratified by Council and the Halifax Advisory Committee on Human Rights and set the City on a course of clearance and relocation.  Click here to view a scan (pdf) of the 10 page Report.

Building Permits for Africville, 1906-1949 (102-39I-29)

Public Health and Welfare Committee minutes

Africville School, 1946 (click to view pdf) ; Africville -Wells, 1947; Permit Application - Barrington Street - Africville, 1948; Building Permits - Africville, 1949; Africville - Condemned Premises, 1951; Permit Application - Pigs - Africville, 1951; Africville Privy, 1954; Africville - Garbage Permit, 1955; Permit Application - Africville, 1957; Africville District - Paratyphoid, 1962; Africville - Residence Unfit for Human Habitation, 1967; Africville Follow-up Program, 1970 (click to view pdf);

Planning Department's reference file on Seaview Park, 1981-1991 (102-105-3)

Seaview ParkCity Council approved the creation of a public park on part of the former Aficville in 1979. Named Seaview Park it did not officially open until 1985. This reference file created by the City of Halifax Planning Department compiles the council minutes and reports re. the design and later developments in the Park, as well as newsclippings about the Park's opening, opposition to the Park, and the further development of a boat launch and service road to the Fairview Cove (Ceres) container terminal. Click here to view a scan (pdf) of the entire file.

Plans from City Manager's Africville files (102-4A.5)

102-4A.5.3

Eg. Africville, 1916 - 102-4A.5.3 - [cropped from original]

(click on image to download .pdf)

Title
Date

Description

Retrieval Code
[Africville]
no date showing proposed land ownership and acreage of land and water access. 102-4A.5.1
[Africville] no date showing buildings with names of owners/residents, rail-lines, planned streets and elevations. 102-4A.5.2a+b
[Africville] 1916/10/25 (date of base map, with later additions) showing land ownership and property boundaries 102-4A.5.3
Africville no date showing existing houses (numbered), roads, buildings and railway lines. 102-4A.5.4 P 700/58
Africville no date showing dwellings with names of owners/residents, buildings. 102-4A.5.5a+b
 

City Engineer's Office plans, 1898-1968 (102-39P)

 

102-4A.5.4 P700/58

eg. Industrial Mile - Africville Area - Land Ownership and Buildings, 1962 - Planning Dept. plan P500/46

(click on image to enlarge - PDF document 1.9KB)

 

Plan Title
Date
Notes
Plan #
Old Campbell Rd. [after 1870]   D-1-626
CNR - Eastern Oil Co. proposed siding to new warehouse near Africville
1898\11\17 also shows necessary road diversion P-5-1275
Plan showing proposed oil siding and rail diversion at Africville for Imperial Oil Co. Ltd. to accompany agreement submitted to City Council 1899\08\15 [available only on microfilm] G-2-1260
CNR Plan showing proposed location for 30 stall Engine House at Africville also diversion of Public Highway from above location (Old Campbell Rd) 1903\08\31   R-6-1528
CNR -Proposed siding to new warehouse near Africville 1904\07\05 showing necessary road diversion [available only on microfilm] K-7-1584
Plan of Africville 1908\02\27   O-1-1830
Africville Plan showing lots acquired from Tully to accompany report on application of McKeen for lot [190?] [available only on microfilm] O-4-4033
Africville - Plan of 8 Water Lots on Campbell Rd (of part of Estate George Drillio) [1917?]   HH-5-7598
Contour & Regular Plan - Water Lots at Africville Now Belonging to City (Tully Estates) 1917\07\18   HH-5-7597
Plan - Numbering - Campbell Rd. west [ca. 1931] [available only on microfilm] G-4-3465
Africville Area - Numbering Plan 1935\04\10 [shows buildings and lists owner/ tenant] DD-4-8154
Two drawings which show the elevation of city property north of Forrester Street; includes CN tracks and Africville, Halifax, N.S. [before 1964]   FF-3-12006
Plan And Profile - proposed diversion through Africville 1941\04\04   JJ-6-8966
PLAN - C.N.R. expropriation at Africville 1941\07\10   KK-6-9073
PLAN - CNR Expropriation Imp Oil Ltd & Levi Hart Lands - Africville 1941\04\25   KK-7-9117
PLAN - CNR to accompany deed to the King - Land near Africville 1941\06\06   KK-7-9124
PLAN - Halifax Lighterage Piers by CNR - Africville 1942\04\23   KK-7-9114
PLAN - Africville - Proposed Sewer and water 1944\10\26   MM-1-9637
Africville Sketch of North End of Halifax (Dickey Sketch) [19??]   QQ-4-11913
Bedford Basin - Land Reclamation 1951\11\12   QQ-4-11974
Africville Plan of land to be leased to George Grant [19??]   QQ-6-12209
FAIRVIEW General plan (Kempt Rd. to Pier #9) 1956\05\16 Shows location of school, buildings, rail lines, streets (existing and proposed), Africville - buildings and residents, garbage dump, moorings, etc. TT-5-16577
Plan showing land on Northern Slope of City extending East from Fairview Overpass to Seaboard Investors Subdivision and South from Bedford Basin to Kempt Road, Lady Hammond Road and Leeds Street 1956\09\23 Shows Africville, City Prison Lands, National Harbours Board Land, Buildings, Wharfs, Trachoma Hospital, Glebe Lands SS-2-14262
Africville Area general area plan 1958\06\3   TT-10-17694
Industrial Mile - Africville Area 1962/07/26 shows land ownership and buildings (see digital image above) P500/46
Halifax / North End / Africville Plan Showing Africville Area Boundaries for legislation 1964\02\01   TT-1-15899
Expropriation Africville 1968\02\15 [available only on microfilm and digitally] TT-8-17186
Africville Aerial Maps showing area and contours [196?] [available only on microfilm ] TT-1-15913
Halifax / North End/ Seaview Park Plan showing land and lands covered by water for proposed recreation site at Negro Point between the A. Murray McKay Bridge & the Fairview Container Pier (Seaview Park) 1978\10\11

Shows bearings and distances on the proposed boundary line/fill line.

TT-25-25293

[click to view enlarged image]

TT-25-25293
Halifax / Seaview Park Plan Showing a Portion of Barrington St. to be Closed 1995\11\08   TT-51-32590
National Harbours Board - Halifax Harbour Development General Plan Pier 9 To Fairview 1956 Records property owners and dates and numbers of land grants for the Bedford Basin shoreline, including Africville; location of buildings (including slaughterhouse and Jewish poultry killing plant, Irving Oil), garbage dump, tug wharf, railway, streets, piers RR-8-13932
Narrows Bridge Approaches Adjacent To Prison Lands = Proposed Sewers [197?] Shows contours, footprints of buildings including Africville, shoreline, rail lines

TT-16-19751

BACK TO LIST OF SOURCES

Secondary Sources:

A history of marginalization - Africville: a Canadian example of forced migration, unpublished thesis by Mary Pamela Vincer, 2008 (971.6225 .V5 REFCOLL)

Africville: Can't Stop Now, 2009 documentary directed by Juanita Peters follows the personal stories of members of the Carvery family dealing with the Africville legacy.

Africville : The life and death of a Canadian black community by Donald H. Clairmont and Dennis William Magill, 1987, 1999 (971.6225 C REFCOLL)

Africville: A spirit that lives on Exhibition publication by Mount St. Vincent University Art Gallery, 1989 (971.6225 S REFCOLL)

Africville Relocation Report by Donald Clairmont and Dennis Magill, 1971

From Africville to New Road: How four communities planned their development by Althea J. Tolliver and James A. Francois, 1983 (397.14 T REFCOLL)

The Condition of the Negroes of Halifax City, Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University Institute of Public Affairs, 1962 (305.8 C REFCOLL)

Nova Scotian Blacks: An Historical and Structural Overview by Donald H. Clarmont and Dennis W. Magill, Dalhousie Institute of Public Affairs, 1970 (971.6 .C5 REFCOLL)

 

The Spirit of Africville by Charles Saunders et al, 1992 (971.6225 S)

Cover Page: The spirit of Africville

The women of Africville: Race and gender in postwar Halifax  thesis by Susan Marion-Jean Precious, 1998 (305.4 .P7 REFCOLL)

Our Roots: Canada's Local Histories On-line has made of some of these volumes available on the internet.

Primary Sources about Africville at other Repositories:

Africville Genealogy Society  -on-line gallery of images, audio and visual recordings of Africville residents.

Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia - African Nova Scotian Museum/Library Resource Centre that protects, preserves and promotes Black Culture in NS.  Exhibit "Africville: The Spirit Lives On" upstairs in the Museum.

CBC Digital Archives -radio and television broadcasts about Africville and the battle for compensation

Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections:

  • Dalhousie's Institute of Public Affairs conducted detailed studies about Africville and the Relocation.  The Institute's research files are a rich source and are listed in a finding aid.

Library and Archives Canada:

  • Ted Grant's views of Africville, 1965 (R11502-0-1-E) National Film Board photojournalist's images of Africville
  • David S.H. MacDonald's Early Church and Ministry file on Africville (R12287-1-8-E) United Church minister's file.

National Film Board of Canada:

  • Remember Africville, 1991 documentary directed by Shelagh Mackenzie

Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management:

Vaughan Memorial Library - Acadia University - Atlantic Baptist Archives hold the records of the African United Baptist Association, but unfortunately no records from Africville's Seaview Baptist Church are known to have survived.

For more details on any of this material, contact the Municipal Archives.