Positive Presence of Absence: A History of the African Canadian Community through Works in the Permanent Collection of the National Gallery of Canada

Africville - Black Court

Karsh, Yousuf Canadian (b. Armenia, 1908-2002) Portia White (singer) ca. 1945 gelatin silver print 51.4 x 46.7 cm. Source

Portia White - Contralto (1911-1968) Bruce Wood "This gifted contralto was born in Truro where her father, Dr. W.A. White, was minister of Zion Baptist Church. She studied to be a teacher at Dalhousie University and taught in several small African-Nova Scotian communities including Lucasville and Africville. After three successive years of winning the Silver Cup in the Nova Scotia Music Festival, she received a scholarship to study at the Halifax Conservatory of Music. Portia made her national debut in Toronto in 1941 and her international debut in New York City in 1944. At concerts across Canada, the United States and Latin America, she was acclaimed the natural purity, range and volume of her majestic voice and for the 'bell-like clarity of her notes'. She considered the highlight of her career to be a Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of Confederation Centre in Charlottetown in 1964." Source

Urbanization Africville 1960s

Africville homes

Black Court, 1921 Lawren S. Harris (Canada 1885 - 1970) MFB: "In 1921 Lawren Harris painted two canvases of destitute sections of Halifax: Elevator Court and this painting of Black Court on Barrington Street. Murky, muddy colours permeate the sky, the tenement buildings, the faces and the foreground where Harris found only misery. At the far end of Barrington Street where the pavement ends, was Africville. Non-residents saw only the poverty of Africville. To those who lived there, however, it was a genuine, viable community dating from the nineteenth century with a strong sense of history. In 1966 in an urban renewal project, Africville like the Bog, was razed. The spirit of Africville endures in the community and in a permanent display at The Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia." Africville Genealogy of Society, The Spirit of Africville, Halifax: Formac Publishing Company, 1992.

Barrington Street Map

Barrington Street Map
HOMEPAGE BIBLIOGRAPHY William Notman Africville - Black Court Robert Scott Duncanson Ignatius Sancho WHO'S WHO

Maureen Flynn-Burhoe 2002.

Last updated March 2003. Contact for comments, corrections and copyright.