Discovering the Hidden History of Saint John NBs Black Loyalist Community

Loyalist Connections Podcast, Season 2 Episode 1: Saint John, NB – Connection to the Port
By Loyalist Connections Creative Society

The history of Saint John, New Brunswick, is intricate and fascinating, but the broader narrative of Black Loyalism in North America often overshadows it. Fortunately, the Loyalist Connections Podcast recently sat down with Graham Nickerson to explore the history and contributions of Saint John’s Black Loyalist community.

As Graham explained, Saint John’s settlement began in 1782, with Black Loyalists among the early settlers. Despite this, the city doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves in the context of Black Loyalism. The conversation delved into the various social dynamics of Saint John, including the racial divide in access to education and the challenges faced by the Black community in asserting their rights and preserving their identity.

Graham’s family history intertwined with the region’s past highlighted the migration of Black Loyalists and free Blacks to New Brunswick following the Shelburne Race Riots, emphasizing the importance of understanding the interconnectedness of the Atlantic provinces in the Black Loyalist narrative. Segregation and racism gradually led to the decline of the indigenous Black population in New Brunswick and the rise of a more diverse Black community with Afro-Caribbean influences.

One of the most striking aspects of the discussion was the exploration of significant Black figures and families in Saint John’s history. Edward Bannister, a grandson of a Black Loyalist, became a renowned artist in the United States and played a pivotal role in the fight for emancipation and empowerment of Black people. Bannister’s story is a testament to the profound contributions of Black Loyalists to the broader narrative of Black history in North America.

Graham’s insights into the history of Saint John and New Brunswick provided a deeper understanding of the complexities and nuances of the Black Loyalist experience. His message to future generations emphasized the importance of recognizing the interconnected stories of Black communities across the Atlantic provinces and the need to continue exploring and sharing these rich histories.

The Loyalist Connections Podcast episode not only shed light on the often-overlooked history of Saint John and its Black Loyalist connections but also served as a powerful reminder of the enduring legacy of these communities and the importance of preserving and honouring their stories.

If you’re interested in learning more about the rich history of Saint John and its Black Loyalist community, we invite you to listen to the full episode of the Loyalist Connections Podcast with Graham Nickerson.