Preston Township, established approximately thirteen
kilometers north-east of Dartmouth, lies along old Highway #7.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
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.
THE SUM OF ITS PARTS:
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
"one City...Many Communities" co -
published BY Halifax Regional Municipality AND Nimbus, funded BY
the HRM Millennium Committee.Author : Alfreda Withrow
1999-2004 by Halifax County NS Canada GenWeb and/or it's contributors
TO NOVA SCOTIA GENWEB
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.