Remembering Africville: Source Guide

Black and white photo of Seaview Baptist Church

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

This source guide provides descriptions of the municipal material related to the community of Africville along with digital copies of those records.  Municipal records tell the story of Africville's relationship with the City of Halifax. These records capture an image of the community’s past through the lens of municipal staff and officials, but also through the experience of citizens, as represented in letters, petitions, surveys of residents, and their participation in committees and public hearings. 

City records tell only part of Africville's story; many other sources are available; some recorded, some passed from generation to generation, some still being created. See below for links to sources at other repositories and an invitation to add to the archival record. The Africville story lives on.

A note on language

Archival records were written in the language of the time, which can be offensive to current sensibilities. To represent these records impartially and without interpretation, archivists present records as they were originally written. The language used in the past is part of the history of the Halifax area, and part of the Archives’ function is to present the reality of this history as accurately as possible. This is a warning that you may encounter offensive language in the original records presented here.

City Council and Board of Control Minutes and Submissions, 1867-1996 

The City of Halifax's interactions with the community of Africville leaves a trail of evidence in City Council minutes (102-1A) and material submitted to Council (102-1B). From the first mention of Africville in 1860 through to Regional Council's historic reparation agreement in 2010, Council minutes help track interactions between the Africville community and the municipal government. These minutes show health and welfare issues, the demand for public services in Africville, the City's response, urban renewal plans, property acquisition negotiations, issues with the City's "relocation" program, and the struggle for reparations that eventually led to the 2010 agreement and apology.

View a complete list of Halifax City Council minutes and Board of Control minutes referencing Africville, as well as brief descriptions and PDFs of the actual minutes and reports.

Example of City Council submissions: 1909 Petition to Council for a Community Well

Black and white photo of the signed petition

Petition to Council for community well, signed by Africville residents, 1909. HMA 102-1B-1909-09

Residents submitted a petition for the installation of 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.


A copy of  the Halifax City Planning 1944 housing survey

A Census and Building Survey of Halifax and Dartmouth (102-36D) was conducted by wartime administrators to address the acute housing shortage. One of its reports summarizes residents' housing aspirations and so the Africville section provides a valuable census of who was living there and their housing situation. It lists each person alphabetically by surname with their response to questions about their housing situation (whether owner/tenant, amount of rent paid, whether interested in obtaining a home, and which area of the city they would like to live - see Legend in upper left corner). Click here to view the Africville section.

The Master Plan for the City of Halifax

Colour image showing the cover of a report

Master Plan of the City of Halifax, 1945 (cover). HMA 711.45 .H17

The 1945 Master Plan was the City of Halifax's first effort at coordinated planning. The plan recommended removing the "Africville Settlement" and providing residents "with a decent minimum standard of housing elsewhere,” and the continued residential development of the Northern Slope of the city.

Section IV Proposal 14 directly addresses Africville.

Redevelopment Study of Halifax (Stephenson Report)

Black and white photo cover of report with an aerial view on cover

Stephenson Report, 1957 (cover). HMA 711.45 .S8

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

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.

The Rose Report (971.6225H) was written by Dr. Albert Rose, a Social Work and Welfare Specialist from the University of Toronto, after he was sent to visit and review the community of Africville. The 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 towards its "Relocation Program."

City Manager's files

The City Manager was the top bureaucrat in city government and kept subject files on many significant issues. These three files about Africville are rich in documentation, including the plans listed below in the Maps and Plans section. Later City Manager files regarding Seaview Park are listed in the Seaview Park section of the source guide.

• Subject file: Africville, 1954-1965 (102-4A.5.1 and 102-4A.5.2) Note: 102-4A.5.1 includes a list of property numbers and owners corresponding with map P500/46

• Subject file: Africville Lands, 1969-1971 (102-4A.124)

• Subject file: Africville, Ex-Africville Residents, 1968 (102-4A.129.1 and 102-4A.129.2)

Halifax Advisory Committee on Human Rights records, 1954-2004

Black and white copy of newsclipping with headline “Expert to Seek Solution for Africville Issue – Prof. Albert Rose, Toronto, Invited”

Article from The Mail Star Sept. 13, 1963. HMA CR5.23

This series consists of minutes, reports, correspondence, surveys, and newsclippings from the Halifax Advisory Committee on Human Rights, a volunteer citizens group 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 City's efforts to move community members out of Africville. These records were donated by committee members Gus Wedderburn and Donald Maclean.

  • Meeting minutes, 1962-1967 (CR5.1)
  • Incomplete Compilation of Minutes, Correspondence, and Related Documents Pertaining to Africville, 1954-2004 (CR5.2)
  • 1962 Survey of Africville Residents, Anonymized (CR5.3)

Redevelopment Committee's Africville Sub-committee records, 1963-1968

The Africville Sub-committee was established in 1964 as an advisory committee consisting of council members, city staff, and members of the Halifax Human Rights Advisory Committee (HHRAC). Its purpose was to advise council on how to implement the Rose Report. The report, written by Dr. Albert Rose of the University of Toronto, recommended the clearance of Africville and the relocation of its residents over a two to three year period.

The Africville Relocation Project, as it was known by the City, was managed by the Department of Development and by social worker Peter J. MacDonald. MacDonald was loaned from the provincial welfare department and was tasked with documenting the social and economic situation in Africville, determining the requirements of each individual and family, and recommending the order and priority for relocation. Part of his role was also to provide assistance to the Africville residents directly, such as assisting in finding suitable alternate accommodations (Council minute 1964-0416, p. 192).

The Sub-committee reviewed and forwarded recommendations to Council regarding the provision of compensation to the owners of Africville homes. The committee wrapped up in the fall of 1967 once most homes had been purchased by the City. 

The records in this series include meeting minutes, reports, and correspondence that the Sub-committee considered in making their recommendations for the acquisition of and compensation for Africville properties. As MacDonald was dealing closely with the individuals and families, these records contain a lot of personal information. Some of that information eventually became part of the public record when City Council considered each Property Acquisition case, or was publicly available through other sources such as newspapers or probate court records. However, some supplementary personal information has been redacted from the attached digital version of the file. Individuals can request access to their own personal information. If it is known that an individual has been deceased for 20 years, their personal information may be accessed. Contact the Municipal Archives for any concerns or questions.

A link to the file will be added as soon as the privacy review is complete (102-42C).

Africville Relocation Project compensation case files, 1964-1971 (series 102-133)

These are the case files in which social worker Peter J. MacDonald gathered the documentation used to recommend the level of compensation and the type of support offered to each property owner in Africville. There is a file for each property owner linked to the property number, as identified on map P500/46. There are also files for other Africville residents who were not property owners. Files can contain land ownership documentation, property appraisals, property tax records, photos or plans of buildings, social assistance budget sheets, welfare payment documents, medical bills, and correspondence with property owners and other levels of government.

As with the Africville Sub-committee records, these files contain personal information that can only be made available to the individual identified, or once that person has been deceased for 20 years. These files have only recently been acquired by the Municipal Archives, but once files are reviewed, a digital version with personal information redacted will be made available. Please contact the Municipal Archives for any concerns or questions.

Africville Follow-up Program records, 1969-1971 (series 102-134)

In 1969 staff from the Social Planning Department, including then-social worker Alexa McDonough, recognized a need to follow up with former Africville residents. The Department started a program focused on housing and employment for relocated Africville residents, including an Africville Action Committee on Employment.

Note: some personal information has been redacted from the attached digital versions of some of these files. Individuals can request access to their own personal information. If it is known that an identified individual has been deceased for 20 years, their personal information was not redacted. Contact the Municipal Archives for any concerns or questions.

  • Africville Follow-Up Proposal reports, 1962-1969 (102-134-1) - reports on the role of the Africville Sub-Committee and the Advisory Committee on Human Rights, and the 1969 Proposal for the Africville Follow-Up Program.
  • Africville Follow-Up Program, 1964-1972 (102-134-2, folder 1 & folder 2) - correspondence and reports related to estimates of total compensation spent on the Africville Relocation project, the Africville Trust Fund, the Seaview Credit Union, proposals from the Africville Action Committee, Don Clairmont and Dennis Magill's 1967 research proposal on the "Urban Relocation of Africville Residents" and their Africville Relocation Study, as well as reports on the Program itself. Also includes copies of the minutes of the Employment sub-committee of the Africville Follow-Up Program. Blank questionnaires that were used to gather information from former residents are included.
  • Africville Action Committee records, 1969-1971 (102-134-3- notes on meetings, reports and correspondence of the Africville Action Committee, as well as documents from city officials including Social Planners and the City Manager. The Committee was formed by former Africville residents and included Marion Howe, Archie Dixon, Edward Carvery, Irvine Carvery, Lloyd Farrell, Yvonne Carvery, Elsie Desmond, Laura Howe. They intended to serve as a liaison between former residents and government and formulated a Special Employment Project for Africville relocatees.
  • Africville Follow-Up Program Housing Sub-Committee records, 1969-1971 (102-134-4) - memos and minutes of the sub-committee who sought loans for low-cost housing for Africville relocatees and explored the creation of a Seaview Credit Union.
  • Africville Follow-Up Program Employment sub-committee records, 1969-1972 (102-134-5- documents created for the Employment sub-committee of the Africville Follow-Up program, including minutes of sub-committee meetings from 1971, job search testing and training material, and employment status reports of former Africville residents. There is also documentation about the role of the Cornwallis St. Baptist Church in the community and its senior citizen programs for former Africville residents, documents from the Provincial Economy for the Poor organization, and documents on the Africville Youth Project. The sub-committee consisted of representatives from the Africville Action Committee (former residents), Halifax Social Planning staff (including Alexa McDonough), Don Clairmont of Dalhousie Institute of Public Affairs, and representatives from the Department of Manpower and Immigration.

Africville Committee records, 1993-1996 (series 102-135)

In the fall of 1994 Halifax City Council responded to urgings by the Africville Genealogy Society and agreed that “in furtherance of the healing process," the City would "establish a committee to be composed of the Mayor and two members of Council to meet with members or representatives of the Africville and local black community in order to achieve closure on the issues surrounding the expropriation of the lands in the community (the committee will not deal with any individual monetary compensation).” (City Council minute 102-1A-1994-11-17, p.676)

As the Africville Genealogy Society and the City continued to negotiate, City staff were collecting files and information related to the Africville Relocation Project that were loosely gathered together. 

Note: These files have recently acquired by the Municipal Archives and will be made available once personal information has been redacted.

  • Staff Committee on Africville reports and correspondence, 1992-1993 (102-135-1) - includes draft reports, research material and memos created by members of the City of Halifax Staff Committee on Africville. Records include a Report to the Africville Committee on the evaluation of the property value of Africville land, ca. 1992; a Preliminary Report on Africville about the fairness of the compensation provided to residents, which appears to be from the City's accounting department; census statistics; and newspaper clippings.
  • Staff Committee on Africville reference material and reports, 1994-1996; copies from, 1964-1970 (102-135-2) - includes records of committee member C. Isaacs of the Alderman's Office, as well as research material related to the City's response to the legal demand for compensation by former Africville residents. File includes a newsclipping about the earlier Africville Baptist Church Trust Fund; note on the Function of the Advisory Committee on Human Rights; summary of Council minutes related to Africville; correspondence with former residents about their properties; summary of Africville Property Acquisitions; 1996 Statement of Claim by former Africville residents against the City of Halifax; a Review of the Africville Relocation Project Land Acquisition Component; draft memos to Council; legal opinion regarding Africville compensation; copy of the 1970 Africville Action Committee proposal; staff summary of the Rose Report; correspondence with the Africville Genealogy Society and its 1994 Subcommittee on Compensation Proposal; the Society's response to the City's 1994 report; copies of minutes of the Sub-Committee on Africville (series 102-42C); and newsclippings about the Africville relocation.
  • Excavation of the Seaview African United Baptist Church report, 1993 (102-135-3) - includes preliminary report on the Excavation of the Seaview African United Baptist Church, Africville, prepared by consultant Catherine Cottreau-Robins, and sent to the City Development and Planning Department. The report was later published in the Nova Scotia Museum's 1995 Curatorial Report.
  • Greenbank historical background, 1994; copies from 1913-[197-?], (102-135-4) - includes research brief by Alfreda Withrow about the relocation of Greenbank residents, and copies of related reference material. Withrow was contracted by the Staff Committee on Africville to do this research.
  • Africville Education Trust Fund, 1995 [copies from 1960s], (102-135-5) - includes documents related to establishing the Africville Education Fund, including drafts of the trust agreement and research material. File also contains copies of 1960s Council minutes, maps and memos related to Africville which  do not appear to relate to the trust fund; these were likely included as general reference materials.
  • Council Committee on Africville, 1994-1995, (102-135-6) - includes copies of Council minutes and notice of motion from 1994 related to the Africville Council Committee and the Africville Genealogy Society, correspondence from Senior Solicitor Mary Ellen Donovan to Alderman Blumenthal, and notes from a meeting of the Council Committee on Africville.
  • Request for Information from Africville Genealogy Society, 1994-1996, (102-135-7) - includes a request to access Africville files from Irvine Carvery to Mary Ellen Donovan, Senior Solicitor, and copies of Council minutes from 1994 related to the Africville Council Committee and the Africville Genealogy Society.

City Clerk's Office files

The City Clerk served as the central record-keeper for the City of Halifax. A variety of files related to Africville were kept by the Clerk, including:

  • Acquisition of Property and Deeds case files include individual folders for each distinct address. The Africville files are listed by building number (as referenced by map P500/46 and owner's name. They have been combined into a single searchable PDF and range from 1964-1969 (102-5-4-T-50).
  • City Clerk's expropriation file on Africville from 1969 (102-5-10-E-1) consists of documentation related to the expropriation of land owned by the estate of William Carvery (through heir Arron [Aaron] Carvery) by the City of Halifax.
  • City Clerk's subject file on the artesian well at Africville from 1944 (102-5A.304)
  • City Clerk's subject file with list of voters from Ward 6, Section F, including Africville residents, 1920 (102-5A-715)
  • Clerk's Office historical reference file on Africville (102-5-1-44) covers material from 1965-1994 and contains news clippings, reports, minutes - including a chronology of Council minutes related to Africville from 1962-1966 - and an overview of Africville history by Don Clairmont in 1990.

Director of Social Planning records

The Department of Social Planning was formed in 1967, and was responsible for providing programs to prevent social problems, rehabilitate individuals and families, and provide financial assistance. This brief correspondence regarding the last homeowner removed from Africville and about the Africville Credit Union (102-115-68) comes from the confidential correspondence subject files of H.D. Crowell, the first Director of Social Planning. The file has been redacted for personal information.

Building Permits for Africville, 1934-1968

These building permit records show applications for new construction, renovations or demolitions in Africville (102-39I-29; this PDF is large: 400 pages, 42MB). The application cards give the location of the construction, name of owner, date of application, name of architect, builder, estimated cost, type of building, and construction details. Building inspectors, health inspectors, etc., would review applications and either issue a permit or not. Some applications have comments from the building inspectors, justification for not issuing permit, or letters of authorization from the building owner.

Most cards are permit applications from the City of Halifax for demolition (1966-68) as well as the approved permits for demolition, as the permits were being granted by the City to itself. These cards give a building number (as shown on map P500/46), a description of the type of building, the date the application was received, and the date the permit was approved. Dates of demolition are only rarely included on the back of some applications, but the demolition permit indicates approximately when the building would have been removed.

See notes at the beginning of 102-39I-29 to assist in searching these permit cards. A searchable finding aid is available; it can tell you on which page of the permits PDF you will find permits related to a particular property.

Halifax property assessment field cards

Property assessment field cards (102-19B) were created by city assessors to record features of each property in order to assess the property value for taxation. These cards were organized by ward, street, and date. Africville properties did not always have civic addresses, and so were often filed under "Africville." The cards provide name and address of owner, notes on tax assessment, building information such as size, construction material, plumbing, roof type, heating, occupancy type (single, family, apartment, etc.), number of rooms, commercial or residential nature of the property, etc.

Property assessment rolls (102-19A) are also available at the Archives. They cover a range of dates from 1817-1975, and were the assessment rolls used by the City of Halifax to determine the property tax for individual lots. Information included is street, ward, name of property owner, and valuation of the property. They are available to view on microfilm.

Africville Building Inspection Reports, 1962 (series 102-39-5)

This file of single-page reports for buildings in Africville gives details on construction type, use, owner, foundation and sills, floors, exterior walls, interior walls and ceilings, roof, lot size, rooms, occupants.

Note: This file has recently been acquired by the Municipal Archives and will be made available once personal information has been redacted.

Public Health and Welfare Committee minutes

The Public Health and Welfare Committee (102-30A) was responsible for local public health and welfare, and dealt with several Africville files. The PDFs below show the excerpts from the committee minutes pertaining to Africville. Full minutes can be viewed at the Municipal Archives.

Board of School Commissioner records, 1865-1953 

From details about the original Campbell Road School in the 1860s, to the closure of the Africville School in 1952, the records of the Halifax Board of School Commissioners (102-53) provide evidence of the education of the children of Africville. Board minutes and other committee records have been digitized. View a summary of the records and the digitized PDFs.

City Reports, 1857-1921

City of Halifax Civic Reports (102-1I) were annual reports prepared by the City Clerk with reports from each department. Their exact content changed over time, but they typically include Estimates; City Auditor’s Report; City Treasurer’s Report; City Clerk’s Report; City Prison Report; City Home Report; Poor Asylum Report; City Assessor’s Report; Library Reports; Report of the Chief of Police; Fire Department Report; Clerk of Works Report; List of Mayors; Aldermen and Councillors; and Valuation for Assessment reports.

These reports do occasionally make reference to Africville, such as funds designated for a well at Africville, or a record of any fires that occurred there during the year, though there is rarely a high level of detail included in the reports themselves. The Source Guide does not bring together the hundreds of references to Africville in the Civic Reports; however, they are available on-line to search for specific mentions.

Seaview Park

Colour photo of news clipping with headline “Black community upset by approval of Seaview Park road”.

Newspaper article on Seaview Park, April 2, 1991. HMA 102-105-3

In 1979 City Council approved the creation of a public park in part of Africville. The park was named Seaview Park, but did not officially open until 1985. There are several records related to Seaview Park that are digitized below: 

  • Planning Department reference file on Seaview Park from 1981-1991  (102-105-3) compiles the council minutes and reports regarding the design and later developments in the Park, as well as news clippings 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.
  • City Manager's subject files (102-4) on Seaview Park  from 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994 
  • Excerpt from City Manager's subject file on Recreation Parkland (Seaview Parks), 1976-1981 (102-4.06.512)

Some records pertaining to Seaview Park that are not directly related to Africville or its community, but are instead focused on the industry in the area, such as the Development Department Project File on Seaview Park (102-41E.306/46), have not been digitized for this source guide.  They are available in person at the Halifax Municipal Archives, and can be scanned on request.


Engineering and Works Department subject files

The Halifax Works Department was responsible for many issues that would touch on the lives of Africville residents, including public services (water and sewer), road and railway rights-of-way, expropriations, and the demolition of city property. The Works Department was also informed of related issues from other departments and kept copies of newsclippings related to their work. Both files related to Africville are in reverse chronological order.

  • Engineering and Works subject file, Africville, 1965-1971 (102-39B.797 - 9MB, 64p.) - includes memo requesting destruction of Seaview Church and details on the demolition of other Africville buildings.
  • Engineering and Works subject file, Africville Property Acquisition, 1964-1970 (102-39B.798 - 9MB, 75p.) - memos from the City Solicitor to staff confirming that the purchase of each Africville property had been legally concluded and that deeds were registered. Note that the actual deeds are in the Acquisition of Property and Deeds case files.

Photographs of Africville

The photographs of Africville held by the Municipal Archives have been digitized and are available in a Flickr album. These photographs come from several departments and represent the municipal government's view of the area. The Municipal Archives encourages anyone familiar with the community to contact us in order to provide more precise location information at for any of the photographs shown below and in the Flickr album.

  • Halifax Police Department photos (102-16N-0065): 13 photos taken in March 1968, towards the end of relocation, scanned by police for display at the Halifax Police Museum.
  • Fire Department photos (102-111-4-6): 4 undated photos, possible from the 1950s, showing houses in Africville
  • Engineering and Works urban renewal photos (102-39-1): approximately 30 exterior views of Africville photographed by City staff.

See other Primary Sources for collections of photographs of Africville from different perspectives. A selection of our Africville photos are shown below.

Maps and Plans

City maps and plans of Africville are found in the records of the City Manager (102-4) and of the Engineering and Works Department (102-39). They are listed below in chronological order with links to a digital copy. Some digital copies are of higher quality than others, depending on whether the image was scanned from an original or from microfilm.

Colour image of map showing Eastern Oil Company land, railroads, and Campbell Road diversion.

Eastern Oil Company proposed siding to warehouse near Africville, 1898. HMA 102-39P P-5-1275.

Maps and Plans from Engineering and Works Department (102-39P)

P-5-1275: Eastern Oil Company proposed siding to new warehouse near Africville, 1898/11/17 - also shows necessary diversion of Campbell Road.

G-2-1260: 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

R-6-1528: Intercolonial Railway Plan Showing Proposed Location for location for 30 stall Engine House at Africville also diversion of Old Campbell Rd - shows footprint of existing buildings and topographic lines. Includes memo from railway noting problem of having private owners between the road and railway, 1903/08/31 

O-1-1830: Plan of Africville - shows footprint of buildings, Campbell Road, rail lines, extensions of Gottingen Street and Longard Road, 1908/02/27

• O-4-4033: Africville Plan showing lots acquired from Tully to accompany report on application of McKeen for lot, [190-?] (available only on microfilm)

HH-5-7598: Africville - Plan of 8 Water Lots on Campbell Rd (part of Estate George Drillio), [1917?]

• HH-5-7597: Contour Plan and Regular Plan - Africville - sketch plan of Tully Property Now Belonging to City - shows footprint of buildings, including church, with notations on property acquisition from Tully Estates and Easter Trust, 1917/07/18

DD-4-8154 (excerpt): Africville Area - Numbering Plan - shows buildings, including old and new church and the school, industrial buildings and piers, some numbered - perhaps with proposed civic addresses along Campbell Road - and lists owner/tenant, 1935/04/10 - Note: it is uncertain when the pencil notations were added.

KK-6-9073: C.N.R. - Estate of Levi Hart expropriation at Africville - shows location of buildings, railways, streets, 1941/07/10

KK-7-9117: CNR Expropriation Imp Oil Ltd and Levi Hart Lands - Africville, 1941/04/25

KK-7-9124: CNR to accompany deed to the King - Land near Africville, 1941/06/06

KK-7-9114: Halifax Lighterage Piers by CNR - Africville - shows location of buildings, land ownership, water line, railway lines, piers, tug wharf, 1942/04/23

MM-1-9637: Africville - Proposed Sewer and water,  shows Barrington St. profile from school to Gottingen St. Extension and location of buildings and railway lines, 1944/10/26.

TT-52-32950: Plan showing 8" & 6" watermain extension to Africville - shows location of buildings, church, school, railway lines, streets, shore, 1948/02/20

QQ-4-11913: Tracing of Sketch of North End of Halifax (Dickey Sketch), - shows land ownership, railway lines, traced 1951-08-31

QQ-4-11974: Bedford Basin - Land Reclamation - shows proposed streets, land ownership along shore, Africville church and school, 1951/11/12

•QQ-6-12209: Africville Plan of land to be leased to George Grant, [19--?] [microfilm missing; NS Archives may have original]

RR-4-13201: Tracing of Department of Public Works of Canada Halifax Harbour 1922 - showing soundings Bedford Basin at Fairview. [Shows location of Mount Saint Vincent University, Africville, Rockhead Prison, Imperial Oil Ltd. property, Turple Head and the Narrows.], traced in 1955/03/22

RR-8-13932: National Harbours Board - Halifax Harbour Development General Plan Pier 9 To Fairview, 1956 - identifies property owners and dates and numbers of land grants for the Bedford Basin shoreline and Africville, location of buildings (including slaughterhouse and Jewish poultry killing plant, Irving Oil), garbage dump, tug wharf, railway, streets, piers, and water lots. It appears that City land has been shaded in.

TT-5-16577: National Harbours Board - Halifax Harbour Development General Plan Pier 9 To Fairview, 1956/05/16 - This is the same base map as RR-8-13932. Shows location of school, buildings, rail lines, streets (existing and proposed), Africville - buildings and residents, garbage dump, moorings, water lots, etc. The abattoir, certain sections of land, and certain streets (Kempt Rd, Memorial Drive, Robie St, Gottingen St, Barrington St) have been highlighted.

SS-2-14262: 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; Africville is unlabeled on this map, and "Owners Unknown" is written over the outline of the buildings in the area.

TT-10-17694: Location of Tower Line Africville Area, 1958/06/3 - Shows railroad boundary, Gottingen St, Barrington St, Canadian Petroleum property, and outline of buildings in Africville, though Africville is unlabeled. A few homes have owners listed: Steed, Dixon, Carvery, and Mantley.

Colour photo of map showing residential dwellings, buildings, boundary lines, and the church. Legend in upper left hand corner.

Africville Land Ownership and Buildings, 1962. HMA 102-39P #P500/46

P500/46: Industrial Mile - Africville Area, 1962/07/26 - Shows buildings in Africville in and surrounding area, including Seaview United Baptist Church, the abattoir, and boundaries of CNR property, abattoir property, and land expropriated by the city. Each building in Africville is highlighted and numbered. These numbers correspond with various municipal records used for the purpose of acquiring Africville properties. These numbers appear on building permits, deeds and acquisition files, and in the Council minutes; they correspond with a list from the City Manager's files which gives property numbers and owners' names. [T-1-15917 is a copy of P500/46]

TT-1-15899: Plan: Africville Area, 1964/02/01 - Showing Africville area boundaries for legislation, outline of buildings in Africville, streets in the surrounding area including official street lines from MacKintosh St. to Gottingen St.

TT-5-16570: Bedford Basin, City Owned Land & Vicinity, 1966/05 - Shows topographic lines, Africville, buildings, streets, rail lines. The Seaview United Baptist Church is labelled, and one building in Africville is labelled as "Ruin."

TT-6-16769: City dump - Bedford Basin, 1966/10/27 - showing building footprints for Nova Scotia Cooperative Abattoir Ltd. and Africville church, as well as proposed location of sea wall, fathom lines, and property lines for area leased to Ross Judge, City of Halifax, Merigomish Coal Mining Co., and George Drillio and Thomas Forhan

TT-8-17186: Expropriation Plan of Certain Lands and Lands Covered with Water by the City of Halifax for Social Purposes, 1968/02/15 - Shows abattoir, street lines, CNR property, and Estate of William Carvery. There are no buildings shown in Africville, which is unlabeled. Sections of land are labeled A, B, and D. 

TT-8-17251: Industrial Mile Africville Area Plan - Land ownership and buildings showing property areas, [1964?] on a 1962 base-map. Red lines appear to border individual properties with a tally of grouped areas in the upper left with a total of 12.8 acres.

• TT-1-15913: Africville Aerial Maps showing area and contours. [196-?] - In four scans: A, B, C, and D - Topographical map shows streets and building outlines, including buildings in Africville.

TT-16-19751: Narrows Bridge Approaches Adjacent To Prison Lands, Proposed Sewers. [197-?] - Shows contours, footprints of buildings including Africville, shoreline, rail lines, proposed sewer lines, and where bridge structure will be located.

TT-25-25293: Barrington Street A. Murray McKay Bridge to Fairview Cove Container port Showing Proposed Park, 1978/10/11 - Showing land and lands covered by water for proposed recreation site at Negro Point between the A. Murray McKay Bridge and the Fairview Container Pier, shows bearings and distances on the proposed boundary line/fill line. 

TT-51-32590: Showing a Portion of Barrington St. to be Closed, 1995/11/08 - Showing Barrington St (formerly Campbell Rd.), official street line, expropriated land, railway, and Seaview Memorial Park (including detailed insets).


Maps and Plans from City Manager's files (102-4)

102-4A.5.1 - [Africville], [196-?]: showing land ownership, rail-lines, proposed streets and acreages of land and water access.

102-4A.5.2a and 102-4A.5.2b: Africville working drawing, [between 1953 and 1955]: shows footprints of buildings with name of owner or usage, rail-lines, planned streets, killing plants, and elevations.

102-4A.5.3 - [Africville], 1916/10/25 (date of base map, with later additions): showing land ownership and property boundaries

102-4A.5.4-P700/58 - Africville, base map is dated Feb. 21, 1962: shows the location of buildings with numbers assigned by the City, and other features. It has a colour-coded legend showing Existing Houses, Existing Road, Baptist Church, Industrial Buildings, N.S.L. & P. Towers, Shore Line, and Railway Tracks. The original map title-block, including the date, has been pasted over and the Planning Office Drawing No. P700/58 has been handwritten overtop. The legend has also been added to the map, and the colour has been added by hand to correspond with the legend. This appears to be the original hand-drawn working map that was used to create and print plan P500/46. The building numbers are the same, for the most part.

102-4A.5.5a and 102-4A.5.5b, and 102-4A.5.5b overlay - Africville, 1955: working maps showing dwellings with names of owners/residents, numbered dwellings, buildings including the post office, Baptist Church, killing plant, Jewish poultry killing plant; shoreline, roadways, rail-lines. With annotations noting "demolished," etc. 102-4A.5.5a has an overlay map showing Gannon's lot. Both maps include numbers added in red near buildings, though it is unclear what they relate to. They are not the same building numbers that were assigned on later City maps (P700/58 and P500/46).

Secondary Sources:

Africville listings in Halifax City Directories, 1892-1961

The Halifax City Directories provide a rich resource of who lived where through Halifax’s history. This searchable pdf is a compilation of excerpts from Halifax street directories, 1892-1961, that list the residents of Africville.

The Halifax City Directory was first published in 1868 as a yearly commercial publication consisting of an alphabetical name directory of residents and businesses in the city, a geographic street directory listing the residents or businesses on each street, and advertisements for local businesses. The companies that published the directories collected the information the spring/summer prior to the publication date and sold the directories to individuals and businesses.

Colour copy of an excerpt of the 1946 street directory

The first entries under “Africkville” in the street directory appear in 1892 as a separate section under “Campbell Road”, the former name for the northern end of Barrington Street. Africville appears in different locations in the street directories over the decades, sometimes as its own entry, sometimes under Campbell Road or Barrington South. For some years there appears to be a cohesive list of residents whereas others list only the commercial buildings in the community. For some years there are civic addresses on Barrington St., but for many years no civic address is given.

The earliest mention of Africville in the Directories is under the 1883 alphabetical name directory which lists some well-known African Nova Scotian names (e.g. Carvery) as living in “Africville”.  There are earlier listings under the Carvery or "Carvary" name in the name directory listed as residing on Campbell Road (e.g. 1872).

The last year that the Street Directory lists names past the railroad crossing on Barrington South is 1961; however residents continued to be listed in the name directory with their address noted as "Africville" until 1965.

To look up residents in the name directories, view the full Halifax directories. For 1868-1927 these are available online through the Nova Scotia Archives here; for 1927 onwards, consult the original directories at Halifax Municipal Archives, Halifax Central Library or Nova Scotia Archives.

Notes about the chronological listing of Africville residents and businesses from Halifax street directories - In this searchable pdf (large file) of the Directory pages Africville listings are highlighted in yellow. The year the directory was published is provided in the upper left corner of each page. Note that street directory listings went from south to north with the east (even civic #s) listed before the west side (odd civic #s). An "r." in front of a name indicates the person lived at the rear of that location. 

More Secondary Sources:

The Municipal Archives also has a variety of secondary sources relating to Africville:

A history of marginalization - Africville: a Canadian example of forced migration - Unpublished thesis by Mary Pamela Vincer, 2008 (971.6225 .V5 REFCOLL) - Digital version available at Ryerson University

Africville: Can't Stop Now - This 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) - Digital version available at University of Calgary

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 H. Clairmont and Dennis Magill, 1971 (301.45 .D143) - Digital version available at Dalhousie University

Displacing Blackness: Planning, Power and Race in Twentieth-Century Halifax, by Ted Rutland, University of Toronto Press, 2018 (307.1216 .R97)

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. Clairmont and Dennis W. Magill, Dalhousie Institute of Public Affairs, 1970 (971.6 .C5 REFCOLL) - Digital version available at Dalhousie University

The women of Africville: Race and gender in postwar Halifax - Thesis by Susan Marion-Jean Precious, 1998 (305.4 .P7 REFCOLL) - Digital version available at University of Calgary

Africville Project: Briefing - Seaview Church and Africville interpretive centre feasibility study/business plan by A.L. Arbic Consulting, 2007 (363.69 .M8 REFCOLL)

Case Study: Africville - Gary Porter, 1975 (971.6225 .P66 REFCOLL)

Righting Canada's Wrongs - Gloria Wesley, 2019 (971.6225 .W513r REFCOLL)

The Hermit of Africville: The Life of Eddie Carvery - Jon Tattrie, 2010 (971.6225 .T38 REFCOLL)

The spirit of Africville - Charles Saunders...[et al], 2010 (971.6225 .S75 REFCOLL)

"Mapping Africville" - Gordon Pollock, Africville vertical file (VFE-002-V)

"Charting the Future: The Closure of Africville's School" - Gordon Pollock, Africville vertical file (VFE-002-V)

External secondary sources

"The View from Jacob Street: Reframing Urban Renewal in Postwar Halifax," Acadiensis 48, 2 (Fall 2019) - Tina Loo [at ProjectMuse, subscription required]

"Africville and the Dynamics of State Power in Postwar Canada," Acadiensis 39, 2 (Summer/Fall 2010) - Tina Loo [at Acadiensis]

Halifax Public Libraries Africville research guide

Africville Story Map – ENRICH Project

Virtual Provincial Heritage Fair workshop "Exploring Africville" (brings together archaeological and archival sources)

The Halifax Explosion: 6 December 1917 at 9:05 in the Morning - poem by Afua Cooper with special focus of the disaster's effect on Africville, Plumleaf Press, 2023


Primary Sources about Africville at other Repositories:

Original records about Africville can be found at these other repositories:

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

Africville Museum - exhibits invite visitors to walk through the history of Africville, from thriving village on the banks of the Bedford Basin to the dislocation. It tells of the efforts of the community to maintain the bonds and to gain recognition of the injustice.  A printed version of this Source Guide is also available at the Museum.

Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia - African Nova Scotian Museum/Library Resource Centre that protects, preserves and promotes Black Culture in NS. Their exhibit "Africville: The Spirit Lives On" is on display at the Museum.

CBC Digital Archives - radio and television broadcasts about Africville and the battle for compensation, and a more recent CBC compilation of their African Nova Scotian material: African Nova Scotian Archives

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:

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.

Saint Mary's University - Lynn Jones African-Canadian and Diaspora Heritage Collection includes material on Lynn Jones, her family, and over 50 years of African, African Diasporic and African-Nova Scotian heritage and history, including civil rights and social justice struggles in Halifax.

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

Donating your records

The Halifax Municipal Archives invites donations of records that should be preserved and made accessible to the public, including documents, photographs, maps, plans, books, sound recordings, and film created by individuals, families, businesses or community organizations active within the municipality. See the donation process here.

The Municipal Archives values the inclusion of community records as an important complement to our government records, particularly as we try to better represent Halifax’s diverse community and histories. This Africville Source Guide demonstrates how acutely underrepresented the voices of Africville residents are within the available records; this needs to change, and the Municipal Archives would like to offer a secure and accessible home to community records related to Africville. The Municipal Archives is aware that community members may be hesitant to donate records to a municipal institution for a variety of reasons, including the history of institutionalized racism in Halifax. We welcome any questions and concerns at, or by phone at 902-490-4643.

There can be many options to ensure those valuable records endure and are available to tell their story well into the future. Donations of original material is preferred, but making copies is possible, too. If donation to a memory institution is not an option, archivists encourage organizations, businesses and families to care for their own historical records. Advice is available through this Guide to Archiving for Community Organizations, as well as through the Council of Nova Scotia Archives.


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