At the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783, former black slaves that had fought for the British – on the condition they be freed – were shipped to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, ostensibly to be settled as free men and women. The largest group (some 3000) came to Shelburne, where they were promptly shunted off to the rocky, worthless land nearby Birchtown. Most were soon signed up as indentured servants to the Loyalists in Shelburne – essentially another form of slavery. Having suffered the largest race riot in Canadian history in 1784 and years of abuse, most of the settlers sailed back to Africa in 1792, founding Freetown in Sierra Leone. Some were forced to stay, however, establishing a community that exists to this day. Learn about their story at the Black Loyalist Heritage Society (May–Sept 11am–5pm; t 902 875 1293, w blackloyalist.com; $3) off Rte-3 in Birchtown, 7km west of Shelburne; a new interpretation centre should be open by July 2013 (the old one was torched in 2006). The shop sells copies of Lawrence Hill’s excellent Book of Negroes, named after the register all those “freed” slaves had to sign in New York before travelling to Canada.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Canada features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Road trip Canada: 5 of the best routes

Road trip Canada: 5 of the best routes

Rugged and vast, Canada is a road-tripper's dream. Driving gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace – pull over and take in the scenery along the w…

09 Mar 2018 • Stuart Forster insert_drive_file Article
Why Halifax is Canada’s friendliest city

Why Halifax is Canada’s friendliest city

Canadians are a friendly bunch; in fact according to Twitter analysis (so it must be true) Canucks are the nicest people in the world. And Canada’s friendlies…

05 Mar 2018 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
7 unusual ways to explore Canada's Bay of Fundy

7 unusual ways to explore Canada's Bay of Fundy

Inscribed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America – rubbing shoulders with perennial favourites such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone – Cana…

01 Feb 2018 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right