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North Preston


Preston Township, established approximately thirteen kilometers north-east of Dartmouth, lies along old Highway #7.


In 1784, a surveyor, Theophilus Chamberlain, together with a number of Loyalists and disbanded soldiers, received a land grant within Halifax County's second township. The settlement was named for Preston, a town in Lancarshire, England.


These Loyalist settlers were joined in 1796 by over five hundred "Maroons," Black Jamaicans deported from Jamaica after an insurrection and brought to Nova Scotia to work on the fortifications being erected around the city of Halifax. However, they had difficulty adjusting to the colder Nova Scotia climate and sought permission to join other Blacks whom some fifteen years earlier had founded the West African country of Sierra Leone.

More Black refugees arrived in Nova Scotia following the War of 1812 on British warships. Offered the land vacated by the Maroons, these families were allocated narrow lots leading down to a lake. In time, a road was built to give the settlers easier access to and from their homes, nevertheless, the town of North Preston remained landlocked as late as the 1970's.


The land offered to the Black settlers was rocky, tree covered, and generally infertile. The refugees struggled with boulders and tree stumps to cultivate their land to produce vegetables for home consumption and to sell at city markets. Some of the men augmented their income by trapping small animals, raising hogs, or planting potatoes. It was subsistence farming. In time, the community population began to decline as younger generations sought different kinds of work.

By the 1850s, many of the Black settlers of Preston Township chose to relocate to other established Black communities such as Africville, Hammonds Plains, or Beechville, as well as to Windsor in Hants County. The community continued to decrease in size as people sought work elsewhere. In 1901, several families emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, while in the 1960s many moved to other parts of Canada, such as Montreal and Toronto. However, Statistics Canada's records show that the population increased significantly between 1951 and 1981 as housing and transportation improved.


Now many of those who live in Preston commute to Halifax or Dartmouth for work, entertainment and recreation.


Several other small communities have evolved near the Preston area. Cherry Brook, named for its cherry trees, developed along the southwest shore of Lake Major. At the corner of Cherry Brook and Highway #7 is the Black Cultural Centre. It was established in the 1980s to preserve the history and culture of the Black people who settled in Nova Scotia. The centre includes exhibits and information on community life, religious beliefs, military service, migration routes, and the family histories of some of those Black settlers from Preston and surrounding districts.


The original Loyalist settlers to the area included the family names Stayner, Greenwood, Allan, Smith, Russell, King, Wisdom and Long families.

Several "Maroon" families did remain behind when the others departed in 1800. The Colleys stayed on Governor Wentworth's farm and today descendants of this family can still be found residing in the East Preston area. The descendants are the relations of Sarah Colley, Wentworth's mistress, who had a son named George Wentworth who was born in 1804 and died in 1893. He inherited the Governor's summer place located on the Colley farm in Preston.

© 1999-2004 by Halifax County NS Canada GenWeb and/or it's contributors

Halifax County Genweb Project gratefully acknowledges the following sources:

Historical Information on many community pages is from : One City...Many Communities" co - published by Halifax Regional Municipality and Nimbus, funded By the HRM Millennium Committee.Author : Alfreda Withrow.

Mapeeze: Free map linking on Destination Nova Scotia.

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