Beechville, Nova Scotia
Beechville (pop. 2,100) is a Black Nova Scotian settlement and suburban community within the Halifax Regional Municipality of Nova Scotia, Canada, on the St. Margaret's Bay Road (Trunk 3). The Beechville Lakeside Timberlea (BLT) trail starts here near Lovett Lake, following the line of the old Halifax and Southwestern Railway. Ridgecliff Middle School, located in Beechville Estates, serves the communities of Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea.
In 1816, the first Black refugees from the War of 1812 arrived in Beechville (aka Beech Hill). The early settlers of the community were refugee Blacks fleeing from the southern American colonies. They were given a grant of five thousand acres (20 km²) close to the Northwest Arm in an area to be known as Refugee Hill. In 1821 ninety-six adults resettled in Trinidad.
The Beechville community spiritual leadership was under the care of Baptist Pastor, Rev. John Burton from England. Rev. Burton preached in Beechville as well as many other communities, but did not establish a permanent meeting house. In 1844, Rev. Richard Preston, a refugee from the USA, who was a close follower and mentored by Rev. Burton, established the first permanent meeting house/church of Beechville Baptist Church.
Rev. Preston remained in Beechville until 1861. Following Rev. Preston the care of the flock in Beechville was provided by many different Pastors, Deacons and Licentiates, including the Rev. Dr. William Pearly Oliver, who pastured the Beechville Church for over 50 years.
The Halifax and Southwestern Railway arrived in 1902. Residential development increased after World War II, followed by industrial development of the Lakeside Industrial Park along the railway in the 1960s. Rail service ended in 2007 and the line was converted to the Beechville Lakeside Timberlea recreational trail.
The old dilated school was abandoned in 1949 and the Beechville Baptist Church donated land for a new school which is now the Beechville Baptist Church Center. Baptisms took place in the nearby lake, Lovett Lake, the candidates would walk down to the lake by the Historical Baptismal Path.
In 1965 segregation was abolished in Nova Scotia and the Beechville students were educated at the Beechville Lakeside Consolidated School in Lakeside. A new Church was built on the same site as the old Church and was dedicated on April 29, 1979 with an inside Baptistry.
In 2014, the Beechville Baptist Church celebrated its 170th of existence. The initial land tract has been significantly reduced, through encroachment of development.
In 2018, Beechville was recognized as a site of historic importance under the Heritage Property Act, by the province of Nova Scotia.
Places of Worship
- Beechville Baptist church, An AUBA Church
- David Othen, Halifax and Southwestern Railway: Views of and from Trains Between Halifax and Bridgewater 1973-2008 (2010) Blurb.com self published, p. 12
- "Census Mapper". censusmapper.ca. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
- "Beechville black refugee settlement recognized as historically significant by N.S." Global News. Retrieved 8 May 2020.