Black communities across Canada have helped shape the neighborhoods in our towns, cities, provinces and territories.
They have been home to some of Canada’s most legendary musicians, engineers, politicians, athletes, entrepreneurs, artists and activists.
In honour of Black History Month, we’ve put together a list of some of the most prominent Black communities to discover and celebrate their influence on Canadian culture.
Amber Valley is an Albertan farming community approximately 160 km north of Edmonton.
It was founded in 1910 by Black Americans escaping the violence and racial hostility of the US in the 20th century.
Originally called Pine Creek, and later renamed Amber Valley in 1931, the town was home to nearly 300 Black community members.
“Among the settlers who established the community were the Bowen, Sneed, Murphy and Edwards families.
Jefferson (J.D.) Edwards and his wife Martha were two of the first people from Oklahoma to settle in Amber Valley.
Willis and Jean Bowen and their children were originally from Oklahoma. In 1909, they settled in Vancouver. They moved to Amber Valley in 1912.
One (of the Bowen’s grandchildren), Oliver Bowen, was an engineer. He went on to design and construct the city of Calgary’s light rail system, also known as the CTrain.”
(Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia)
Historically referred to as the “Harlem of the North”, Little Burgundy was once a prominent Black community in Montreal.
Formally enslaved Black Americans fled to Canada with some finding employment on the railway stations.
“(Little Burgundy’s) proximity to two railway stations attracted Black men who worked as train porters when it was the best of the low-paying jobs available to them.
That history gave birth to a unique Black community along with a vibrant Canadian jazz scene and thriving Black institutions which continued to thrive until the community was torn about in the name of urban renewal beginning in the mid-1960s.
(Though the neighbourhood has been through gentrification) new generations are reclaiming the rich history left behind.” (Source: CBC)
“Africville was a primarily Black community located on the south shore of the Bedford Basin, on the outskirts of Halifax.
The first records of a Black presence in Africville date back to 1848, and it continued to exist for 150 years after that.
Over that time, hundreds of individuals and families lived there and built a thriving, close‐knit community.
There were stores, a school, a post office and the Seaview United Baptist Church, which was Africville’s spiritual and social centre.” (Source: Canadian Museum for Human Rights)
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to our mailing list to receive notifications on our future blog posts. Don’t forget to share this with friends on social!