North Preston

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The entrance to North Preston, July 7, 2016.

North Preston is an unincorporated community located in eastern Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, in Canada. North Preston has a population of nearly 4000 people[citation needed]. The community is populated primarily by African Canadians. North Preston is the oldest and largest indigenous Black community in Canada, as well as having the highest concentration of African Canadians across Canada.


The community traces its origins to the immigration of former African American slaves during the 18th and 19th centuries.

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 found the African United Baptist Association. The AUBA united black churches across Nova Scotia and provided them with organizational structure. Preston set up 11 Baptist 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. Its iconic water tower can be seen.

Today, North Preston is a prosperous community having a high home-ownership rate, a stable population, and the community's ability to resist urban sprawl such as that occurring in other Black Nova Scotian settlements. The community also has a higher average income at $33,233 a year, compared with the average of $31,795 for Nova Scotia.[1] Despite that, however, the community remains relatively isolated from the rest of Halifax, in its rural setting. An annual community festival and parade occurs every July, on a community event called North Preston Day. The event has been taking place every year on July 4. Many members of the community attend; the event is free and many special 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.[2]

North Preston is served by a large elementary school, Nelson Whynder Elementary School. The community is also home to several community buildings, several churches, a day care, a medical centre, a volunteer fire department and several local businesses.[3] The church has been the spiritual centre of the community of North Preston for over 150 years.[4]

Notable residents[edit]

The Reverend Dr. Donald Douglas Skeir - minister, pastor, social activist, school teacher


  • Abucar, Mohamed (1988). Struggle for development : the black communities of North & East Preston and Cherry Brook, Nova Scotia, 1784-1987. DAL Killam. ISBN 0-921201-04-4. 

Coordinates: 44°44′39.7″N 63°27′52″W / 44.744361°N 63.46444°W / 44.744361; -63.46444