North Preston

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North Preston
Up Home, New Road Settlement[1]
Entrance to North Preston
Entrance to North Preston
North Preston is located in Canada
North Preston
North Preston
North Preston is located in Nova Scotia
North Preston
North Preston
Coordinates: 44°44′46″N 63°27′52″W / 44.74611°N 63.46444°W / 44.74611; -63.46444Coordinates: 44°44′46″N 63°27′52″W / 44.74611°N 63.46444°W / 44.74611; -63.46444
Country Canada
Province Nova Scotia
Municipality Halifax Regional Municipality
Time zone AST (UTC−4)
 • Summer (DST) ADT (UTC−3)

North Preston is a community in Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada.[2][3]

The community is populated primarily by Black Nova Scotians. North Preston is the oldest and largest Black community in Canada, as well as having the highest concentration of African Canadians across Canada.[citation needed]


Historical populations
Year Pop. ±%
1921 572 —    
1931 741 +29.5%
1956 885 +19.4%
1981 1,240 +40.1%
1986 1,230 −0.8%
2006 847 −31.1%
2011 868 +2.5%
2016 903 +4.0%
Source: Statistics Canada[Note 1]

The community traces its origins from several waves of migration in the 18th and 19th centuries. The American Revolution brought Black Loyalists to the Preston area. The 1790s brought a different group of Black settlers to the regions, the Maroons from Jamaica. While many Maroons later left for Sierra Leone, a number stayed in Preston and Guysborough County. These groups were joined shortly after by a third migration starting in 1813, of Black refugees from the War of 1812. The Black refugees came to Nova Scotia mostly from the Southern US states, bringing with them a strong Baptist tradition. These three major waves of migrants were also periodically joined by runaway slaves. In recent times, lifelong residents have been joined by small numbers of migrants from Ontario, the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States – many of whom are married into families in North Preston.

William Brown Sr. and William Arnold purchased land on the southern shore of Bedford Basin in the City of Halifax. In 1846, people migrated out of Preston (and Hammonds Plains) and began settling in the area, which gradually became known as Africville.

In 1854, Richard Preston and Septimus Clarke set up 11 churches in Nova Scotia, and helped pass the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. Richard Preston was an escaped slave from Virginia and took the name Preston from the community, where he was reunited with his mother as she had escaped slavery earlier in her life.

Present day[edit]

The road to North Preston. The settlement's water tower can be seen.

North Preston has a high home-ownership rate and a stable population, and has resisted urban sprawl which has occurred in other Black Nova Scotian settlements. At $33,233, North Preston has a higher average income compared with the average of $31,795 for Nova Scotia.[4] The community remains relatively isolated from the rest of Halifax, in its rural setting.

North Preston Day is an annual community festival and parade occurring each July 4. Many members of the community attend; the event is free and guests from outside of the community attend. In 2010, television personality Debbie Travis made a guest appearance to film part of her show All for One, aired on CBC.[5]

North Preston is served by Nelson Whynder Elementary School. Several community buildings, churches, a day care, a medical centre, a volunteer fire department and several local businesses are located in North Preston.[6] A church has been located in North Preston for over 151 years.[7]

Notable people[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • A. Mohamed, Struggle for Development :The Black Communities of North & East Preston and Cherry Brook, Nova Scotia, 1784–1987, DAL Killam, 1988.

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