Rose Fortune

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Rose Fortune
Born(1774-03-13)March 13, 1774
DiedFebruary 20, 1864(1864-02-20) (aged 89)

Rose Fortune (March 13, 1774 – February 20, 1864) was a Canadian woman who came to Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, with the Black Loyalists, where she became a successful businesswoman and the first female police officer in Canada.

Life and career[edit]

Rose Fortune was born into slavery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 13, 1774, her family subsequently being relocated to Virginia by the Devones family. Escaping slavery during the American Revolution the family was relocated to Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, as part of the Black Loyalist migration, when she was 10 years old.[1] In 1825, she started her own business, carting luggage between the ferry docks and nearby homes and hotels. She became entrusted with safeguarding property and maintaining order on the wharves and warehouses of Annapolis Royal, acting as the town's waterfront police officer.

Rose Fortune's grave grave marker in the Garrison Cemetery

Rose Fortune died on February 20, 1864, in the small house she owned at the engineer's lot near Fort Anne. She was buried in Annapolis Royal in the Garrison Cemetery.[2] A special marker was created for her grave and installed on Canada Day in 2017. Created by sculptor Brad Hall, it uses a stylized wheelbarrow made or iron and stone to evoke her work and the business she founded on the waterfront. The wheel barrow forms a memorial bench where visitors are invited to sit and reflect on Fortune's place in history.[3]


The business she founded was continued by her grandson-in-law Albert Lewis as the Lewis Transfer Company and continued for several generations, remaining in business until 1980.[4] Her direct descendant was Daurene Lewis, who was elected Mayor of Annapolis Royal in 1984, being the first African-Canadian woman to attain that position.

In 1999, a plaque in her honour was installed near the location of her house in the Petit Parc on the Annapolis Royal waterfront, part of the Mathieu da Coast heritage trail.[5]

FORTUNE, a play inspired by the life of Rose Fortune, written by playwright George Cameron Grant, has been performed through the United States and the Maritimes. Grant was inspired by a Candlelight Graveyard tour in 2013, led by Annapolis Royal historian Alan Melanson which featured the unmarked resting place of Rose Fortune. Grant resolved to write the play and start the campaign for the grave monument.[6]

In May 2015, Rose Fortune's first name was bestowed upon the new ferry, the MV Fundy Rose to operate between Digby, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick.[7]

Fortune was named a National Historic Person on January 12, 2018.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nova Scotia Archives: African Nova Scotians: Rose Fortune
  2. ^ "Rose Fortune". Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  3. ^ Lawrence Powell, "Good Fortune -- Annapolis Royal honours its most famous Black Loyalist", Annapolis County Spectator, July 12, 2017
  4. ^ Ian Lawrence, Historic Annapolis Royal, Halifax: Nimbus Publishing (2002), p. 26, 154
  5. ^ "Rose Fortune", Mathieu Da Costa Trail, Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association
  6. ^ Lawrence Powell, "Good Fortune -- Annapolis Royal honours its most famous Black Loyalist", Annapolis County Spectator, July 12, 2017
  7. ^ Riley, Jonathan. "Fundy Rose is the name of the new Digby Saint John ferry". Digby County Courier. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  8. ^ Government of Canada Announces New National Historic Designations, Parks Canada news release, January 12, 2018

External links[edit]