Black Loyalist Heritage Centre - Birchtown

Birchtown Today – The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre Project

The Black Loyalist Heritage Society is a dynamic, charitable organization committed to discovering, interpreting, safeguarding, and promoting the history and heritage of the Black Loyalists. For over thirty years, the society has worked to ensure the chronicles and contributions of the Black Loyalists takes its place with other communities that shape Canada’s cultural mosaic.

Originally founded as the Shelburne County Cultural Awareness Society, their early projects included archaeological digs throughout the community of Birchtown, as well as extensive genealogical research on Black Loyalists families. In 1999, the Society was officially renamed the Black Loyalist Heritage Society and in 2000 opened the Black Loyalist Heritage Site in Birchtown. The site was comprised of the Black Burial Ground and Monument Site, St. Paul’s Anglican Church and the Black Loyalist Museum which was housed in the Old Birchtown Schoolhouse.

On March 31 2006, members of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society watched as 18 years of research and work went up in flames. The administration building, which had been built as part of the Historic Site in 2000, had been set on fire intentionally. Despite charges being laid, no one was ever held accountable for the arson attack. The Society, and the Black Loyalists, are not defined by someone else’s hatred. This attack became a catalyst for the Society. They would rise from the ashes and build – bigger and better.

Plans and development for a brand new interpretive centre soon began and in 2011, the Society announced it’s goal to fundraise $1.5 million. This money, along with contributions from the Government of Canada and Province of Nova Scotia would help make the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre a reality. On June 6th, 2015 the Society officially opened the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre with the first annual Journey Back to Birchtown celebration.

Since the opening of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in 2015, the Society has welcomed over 40 thousand visitors to Birchtown to learn about the rich history of the Black Loyalists. The Centre and Site have become a top attraction in Nova Scotia. Despite the success of the Centre, the Society continues to work to furthering its mandate of discovering, interpreting, safeguarding and promoting the story of the Black Loyalists.