Alan Melanson, with The Historical Association of Annapolis Royal, wrote the nomination letter to champion Fortune who came to Annapolis Royal in the early s, the daughter of freed slaves. He equated it to the poem Evangeline that he said woke up an Acadian pride.
He said often in history women and minorities have not gone to the forefront. Rose Fortune, a Black Loyalist originally from the US, is best-known for her talent as a businesswoman at a time when neither women nor Black persons were encouraged to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities see Black Canadians and when the feminist movement in Canada was decades away.
Born during the American Revolution to enslaved persons, Fortune emigrated to Canada at age ten.
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Her family settled in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, a popular destination for black Loyalists. Although they were granted freedom from enslavementearning a living was difficult for black Loyalists who came to Canada.
A permanent commemoration to Rose Fortune has been erected in Annapolis Royal, the town where she achieved the many accomplishments that led her to become a recognized part of Canadian history. Born into slavery, Fortune was when she arrived in colonial Nova Scotia in the late s as part of the Black Loyalist migration. As an adult, she started a successful baggage-carting business along Annapolis Royal's waterfront, toting goods and luggage in a wheelbarrow.
That business was maintained by a grandson-in-law into the s. She also helped keep order along the docks, and is widely considered to be Canada's first female police officer — a huge feat in a time where major civil rights and feminist movements were still more than a century away. Fortune was named a National Historic Person in Januaryand on Saturday, a plaque was unveiled in her honour on the Annapolis Royal waterfront, in the area where she worked nearly years ago.
Peters, 56, said she didn't know much about her great-great-great grandmother until around 20 years ago because her story wasn't as open and public as it is today. But while Fortune's accomplishments are now well-known in Annapolis Royal and among the African Nova Scotian community, Peters said it's important that all Canadians become familiar with her story. Alan Melanson, past president of The Historical Association of Annapolis Royal, said the association first nominated Fortune to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada as a person of national ificance in Since then, he said the association has been working with the government and Fortune's descendents to erect the plaque for the association's centennial year.
The plaque is mounted on a large boulder donated by Fred Bailey, another one of Fortune's descendants. Melanson added that the town has named the plaza where the plaque is now mounted as the Rose Fortune Plaza as a testament to the stories of African Canadians and women who may have been overlooked in Canadian history. Durline Melanson, Alan's wife and the association's current president, said Fortune's story was an inspiration to anyone who had to overcome prejudice and hardship.
Alex is a reporter living in Halifax. Black girls of Annapolis Royal Alan Melanson, with The Historical Association of Annapolis Royal, wrote the nomination letter to champion Fortune who came to Annapolis Royal in the early s, the daughter of freed slaves.
Online: Now. The unveiling drew a crowd of more than people. Send her story ideas at alex. Now, she's attained national recognition.