THE EARLY DAYS
Six years before the arrival of the Ship Hector in 1773 on the shores of New Scotland and 100 years before the birth of Canada, the first Blacks came to live in Pictou County. They were slaves brought to the rugged land of northern Nova Scotia from Philadelphia by Matthew Harris.
Although the Matthew Harris story has been documented by historians, it is likely that Blacks set foot on Pictou County soil prior to 1767 since 104 Blacks were living in Nova Scotia by this time. Indeed, even before the founding of Halifax in 1749, free Black soldiers, labourers and masons lived in Cape Breton, a French stronghold in the New World.
At the beginning of the American Revolution there were about 500 Blacks in Nova Scotia. Some were free men, but most were slaves, as slavery was an accepted practice in the British colonies.
If not for the American War of Independence, the Black community as we know it in Nova Scotia would not have existed. The revolution resulted in the largest single influx of Blacks to the province, and most of them were free. It was these "Black Loyalists" who would form the foundation of the modern day Black presence in Nova Scotia.