Beechville, Nova Scotia
Beechville (pop. 125) is a rural 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.
Many of the first arrivals were refugees who escaped slavery from the southern American colonies. They were given a grant of five thousand acres (20 km²) close to the Northwest Arm when they fought in the War of 1812 in an area to be known as Refugee Hill. Established by Richard Preston, Beechville Baptist Church has played an important part of the community over the 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.
History of African Nova Scotians in Beechville
In 1816, the first Black Loyalists arrived in Beechville (aka Beech Hill). The early settlers of the community were refugee Blacks fleeing from the USA. The Government of Nova Scotia granted one thousand acres of land near the North West Arm for the Refugees to use. 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. In Following Rev. Preston the care of the flock in Beechville was provided by many different Pastors, Deacons and Licentiates, including the Rev. Dr. W.P. Oliver, who pastured the Beechville Church for over 50 years. 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. The current community has a population of approximately 125 people.
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