Annapolis Royal students create self-guided Rose Fortune walking tour

·2 min read
A harbourfont plaque in Annapolis Royal honouring Black Loyalist Rose Fortune who became a successful businesswoman in the 1800s. (Parks Canada - image credit)
A harbourfont plaque in Annapolis Royal honouring Black Loyalist Rose Fortune who became a successful businesswoman in the 1800s. (Parks Canada - image credit)

Students from  Annapolis West Education Centre are hoping to teach more people about the life and legacy of Black Loyalist Rose Fortune through a self-guided walking tour they developed.

Fortune is considered by many to be Canada's first policewomen and was a prominent local entrepreneur in her day.

The project emerged from the options and opportunities classes taught by Heather Hiscock.

Hiscock said she wanted to find a way to combine the Grade 10 community-based course with the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute's African Nova Scotian history challenge.

Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management
Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management

She said one of the challenges was to create a travel brochure about a Black Loyalist community such as Annapolis Royal.

"When I brought it up to the students, the name that everybody wanted to talk about was Rose Fortune," Hiscock said.

"Our tour is created based on all of the information that the students researched together to create a walking tour around St. George Street to learn about Rose Fortune."

Hiscock said the fact that a Black woman in the 1800s was able to create a business and gain such respect in her community was inspiring.

Her image has been featured on a commemorative Canadian postage stamp as a testament to the perseverance of Black Loyalists who succeeded in spite of discrimination.

Isabella Phillips is one of the Grade 10 students who worked on the project. She told CBC Radio Information Morning host Portia Clark that she was thankful to have the opportunity to learn more about Fortune.

Phillips said she had seen the 1830s watercolour portrait of Fortune, done by an unknown artist, when she started the project. She also knew Fortune was a successful entrepreneur and Canada's first female police officer.

"She was a porter on the Annapolis wharf, and she would take her wheelbarrow or her cart and lug luggage for people back to the places that they were staying," Phillips said.

"It really impresses me the levels of confidence in herself she had because back then wasn't the most welcoming time for people."

According to Phillips, one of the challenges was narrowing down Fortune's story to fit into a pamphlet that wasn't too long.

The pamphlet is available at the Annapolis Royal visitor centre, Phillips said, and the tour begins at the Annapolis Royal wharf and ends at the Garrison House where Fortune's portrait hangs.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.



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