The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre & Historical Site
Open May 1 (Please note: Due to preparations for the Grand Opening Celebration the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre will be closed June 4 for public tours)
One of Canada’s best kept secrets, the largest free Black settlement in the 1780’s where people voted with their feet for freedom. This unique historical site is nestled in beautiful Birchtown Bay on the western shores of Shelburne Harbour, the third largest natural harbour in the world.
Depending on the weather you may want to bring a picnic lunch and nourish yourself before you begin this extraordinary experience of the old and new.
Climb up the Shaw Turret where we commemorated all Black Loyalist communities as you overlook Birchtown Bay. Enter into the centre’s Lindsay Gallery and dive into the multimedia presentation of the Black Loyalist journey from Africa to the US then to Nova Scotia and back to Africa. Explore the virtual copy of the Carlton’s Book of Negroes and search for your ancestor who may have experienced part of this incredible journey.
Before you leave us please take the time to create a virtual quilt square that will tell us about your experience and how this story has impacted you and what you have learned.
Please continue to explore our site and visit our historical buildings including the Old School House and Saint Paul’s Church where you can view our Bunce Island exhibit and movie, the National Historic Monument that commemorated the 1783 Black Loyalist Landings of Nova Scotia, explore our Heritage Trail and visit the Pit House.
Be prepared to spend some time with us.
Admission is $8/adult; $5/senior (ages 65+); $5/youth age 6-17 and free for children 5 and under. We also offer a Family Passes for $20 which includes 2 adults and maximum 3 children.
The Centre will be open starting May 1st, Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm. Beginning June 1st until August 31st the Centre will be open daily 11am to 5pm. Please contact the administrative office to schedule a tour in the off season by calling 902-875-1310.
(Please note: Due to preparations for the Grand Opening Celebration the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre will be closed June 4 for public tours)
4:30 pm – On June 5 The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre will host CTV News at 5 on site – there will be performances and interviews with guests on site and we encourage residents to come out and be part of the show as CTV news at 5 comes for the first ever remote show in the area! People are encouraged to come for 4:30pm – seating will be available.
At 7pm, we welcome renowned author of the Book of Negroes Lawrence Hill to the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre for an evening reading and a question and answer session. Refreshments will be served. Seating is limited. Tickets are $10/person. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Whirligig Book Store (t) 902-875-1117. TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT!
We will mark our official grand opening, The Journey Back to Birchtown, on June 6. The Journey Back to Birchtown will feature performances by African Nova Scotian artists and a multi-media stage presentation. Performers include Juno award-winner JRDN, Jeremiah Sparks, Dutch Robinson, Shelley Hamilton, Cyndi Cain, the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, the Sierra Leone dancers, Shauntay Grant, Hillcrest Academy Djembe Group and many more. The program will also feature John Franklin of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and the Book of Negroes author Lawrence Hill. The outdoor concert is FREE!
Free tours of the new facility will begin at 9am and end at 2pm. Keynote addresses will begin at 12:30pm, procession of dignitaries from the Black Burial Ground, National Historic Monument starts at 1:30pm and the outdoor concert will start at 2pm and end at 4:30pm. Please note during the concert, from 2pm to 4:30pm, the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre will be closed. The Centre will re-open at 4:30pm for public tours and close at 6pm.
The performance venue will be outside, rain or shine, so please dress accordingly. Seating is limited. We encourage visitors to bring their own chairs. Due to limited parking in Birchtown, there will be a free shuttle bus service transporting visitors from Shelburne to Birchtown every half hour. See route below. The Birchtown Community Centre will be hosting a BBQ lunch. Menu will include hamburgers, hotdogs, sausages and potato salad. Price to be determined.
Schedule of Events June 6
- 9am – 2pm – FREE Tours of the Centre. The centre will be closed during the stage presentation.
- 9am – Shuttle service begins in Shelburne – see map of route recommended parking areas
- 12:30pm – John W Franklin, Senior Manager, Office of the Deputy Director, National Museum of African American History & Culture, Smithsonian Institute, will give the keynote address
- 1:30pm – Opening Procession – Public is invited and encouraged to participate in the procession from the sacred burial ground to the stage area – the procession will include community leaders and featured musicians and artists. This will be a short walk approximately 5 minutes. Seating near the stage area will be limited the public is encouraged to take folding or portable chairs where possible and dress for the weather as this is a rain or shine event.
- 2pm – Journey Back to Birchtown begins – with an opening by Dr. Elizabeth Cromwell, Deborah Hill, Lawrence Hill, the Honourable Gerald Keddy and the Honourable Tony Ince.
- 2:10pm – The Journey Back to Birchtown begins featuring performances by African Nova Scotian artists and a multi-media stage presentation. Performers include Juno award-winner JRDN, Jeremiah Sparks, Dutch Robinson, Shelley Hamilton, Cyndi Cain, the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, the Sierra Leone dancers, Shauntay Grant, Hillcrest Academy Djembe Group and many more.
- 4:30pm – 6pm – FREE tours of the Centre
- 9pm-1am – A celebratory dance, featuring the Carson Downey Band, will be held at the Shelburne Community Centre from 9pm to 1am for patrons 19+. Tickets are $10/person. Cash bar will be available.
FREE Shuttle Bus Route ONLY available JUNE 6th (service begins at 9am)
Stop 1- MacKenzie Cottages (park at library parking lot) and Wildwood Motel 260 Water St
Stop 2- Coopers Inn – 36 Dock Street Pickup on Dock and Mason
Stop 3- Yacht Club Parking Lot – 107 Water St
Stop 4- Fire Hall and Arena (parking on John St. is encouraged) – 63 King St
Stop 5- Shelburne Mall – 115 King St.
Returns to Birchtown – 119 Old Birchtown Road – every 30 minutes until 5:30 pm
For a Word Document of the Public Service Announcement, please click here: PSA The Journey Back to Birchtown Celebration
Check out the Chronicle Herald website for some informative articles on the history of Birchtown and the Black Loyalists: http://thechronicleherald.ca/tags/blhc
For our out-of-town visitors looking for accommodations, the following businesses have indicated availability:
- Sandy Lane Vacation Rentals (902-875-2729)
- Rosegate Cottage – 2 bedroom (1 queen 1 single)
- Rising Sun Guest House Ocean Front – sleeps 4
- Heart of Ocean – 2 bedrooms (2 doubles, 2 singles, sleeps 6)
- Sable River Cottages (902-656-3071)
- 3 cottages – 2 bedrooms each
- Whispering Waves Cottages (902-637-3535)
- 1 cottages – 1 bedroom (queen) & pull out sofa
- 2 cottages – 2 bedroom (queen) & pull out sofa
- Clyde River Cottages (902-637-3481)
- 6 cottages – 2 bedroom
- Roseway River Cottages (902-875-3812)
- 4 cottages – 2 bedroom each
- 1 cottage wheel chair accessible – 1 bedroom
- Inner Harbour Inn (902-875-2862)
- Sandy Cove Cottage (902-875-6381)
- 1 cottage – 2 bedroom (1 queen, 1 double with 2 futons, sleeps 6-8)
- Lockeport Landing Ltd (902-656-3333)
- Bed & Breakfast – 4 rooms (café on site)
- MacKenzie’s Cottages, Motel & Suites (902-875-2842)
- 4 motel units
- Wildwood Motel (902-875-2964)
- 9 rooms (2 double beds per room)
- Seaside Cottages (902-656-2089)
- 3 cottages – 2 bedroom (1 queen, 2 twin) complete with full kitchen & living room
For a complete listing of accommodations and food services available in Shelburne, please visit http://discovershelburnecounty.com/
To view the official press release from the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage click on the attached link: http://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20150508001
The Black Cultural Centre is offering transportation support to and from the Grand Opening in Birchtown on June 6. A bus will depart from the Black Cultural Centre at 8am and depart from Birchtown at 5pm and return to the Black Cultural Centre at 8pm. The cost for the round trip will be $22/person. Tickets must be purchased in advance at the Black Cultural Centre. Please call 902-434-6223 to purchase a ticket. A minimum of 40 people must purchase tickets prior to May 29 to make this service available. In the event that the minimum number of people is not met, a full refund will be provided to ticket purchasers. No refunds will be issued after May 29th booking deadline.
History on the Harbour Package – The Cooper’s Inn
Discover the rich history of Shelburne with this 2 night package. Harbour Package includes two nights at the Cooper’s Inn (best room available at the time of booking); happy hour each evening and breakfast each morning; dinner at award winning Charlotte Lane Restaurant ($50.00 certificate); 3 hour Harbour Boat Tour with Captain Ken & First Mate Sherri; and passes for three Shelburne Museums.
Tour Ross-Thomson House & Store. See how our Loyalist ancestors lived. Learn about the history of the Shelburne Dory and see one being built and finally peruse the collection of artifacts the museum has collected over the years.
Passes for the Black Loyalist Heritage Society’s Historical Site and Museum in Birchtown.
One of Canada’s best kept secrets, the largest free Black settlement in the 1780’s where people voted with their feet for freedom. The unique historical site is nestled in Birchtown Bay on the western shore of Shelburne Harbour, the third largest natural harbour in the world.
A copy of the book “King’s Bounty: A History of Early Shelburne Nova Scotia” by Marion Robertson.
$499.00 per couple (all taxes included)
More information can be found at: www.thecoopersinn.com