“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” – Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr.
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” – Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr.

British Columbia

Commemorating the arrival of the Black Pioneers in 1858

Commemorating the arrival of the Black Pioneers in 1858:  On September 22, 1997 the arrival of the Black Pioneers was designated as a National Historic Event.  The ceremony to  unveil the plaque took place on February 20, 2000 at the Shady Creek Church United Church, 7180 East Saanich Road.

Commemorating the arrival of the Black Pioneers in 1858

City of Victoria:  Fort Victoria    

In the 1850’s Victoria was known as Fort Victoria, established by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1843.

City of Victoria:  Fort Victoria Commemorative Project  

To commemorate early Victoria pioneers and settlers, a double row of bricks was laid from 1000 to 1150 Government Street and in Bastion Square, known as the Fort Victoria Brick Project.  Each brick is engraved with the name of a pioneer.

The Black Pioneers that have engraved bricks are:

Nathan & Sarah Pointer. Brick No. 22 in Bastion Square.  Nathan Pointer owned a men's clothing and accessories store on Government Street.

Louis & Sylvia Stark. Brick No. 23 in Bastion Square. The Stark’s initially settled in South Saanich in 1859. They moved to Salt Spring Island in 1860 where he worked as a dairyman and farmer and she worked the farm, tending the animals and orchards and also worked as a midwife.  Sylvia lived to be 106!  More about Sylvia Stark.

Howard & Hannah Estes. Brick No. 24 in Bastion Square. Howard and Hannnah Estes are Sylvia Stark’s parents.  They were farmers who settled in the South Saanich area.  Hannah Estes is buried at Pioneer Square (the Old Burying Ground), which is located at the south end of Quadra Street between Meares Street and Rockland Ave. in Victoria.

Ringo's Restaurant.  Brick No. 25 in Bastion Square. Samuel Ringo owned a restaurant, situated on Yates Street that was noted as the best in Victoria.

Wellington Delaney Moses. Brick No. 44 in Bastion Square. Moses owned and operated several business in Victoria and Barkerville including barbershops, salons and bath houses in Victoria and Barkerville.  Lady Franklin, wife of the Arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin, stayed at the Wellington’s home with her niece Sophia Cracroft in 1861.

Sir James Douglas and Lady Amelia Douglas.  Brick No. 654, 655 in Bastion Square. Sir James Douglas was the governor of Vancouver Island in 1858 and it is Douglas who sent an emissary to San Francisco to meet with Blacks in San Francisco and invite them to immigrate to Vancouver Island.  More about Sir James Douglas.

James and Mary Louisa (nee Lowe) Barnswell. Brick No. 1106 located between 1130 and 1140 Government Street. Barnswell was a carpenter who built some of Victoria’s most elegant homes, and was a prominent member of the Victoria community during the 1870’s.  It is also said that he had also been a private carpenter for Sir James Douglas and as having built a church that stands on the corner of Pandora and Quadra in Victoria.

Charles and Nancy Alexander. Brick No. 2232 located at 1016 Government Street. On July 1, 1858, Charles, Nancy and their two children boarded the ship Oregon to Victoria in response to Sir James Douglas’ call for colonists. Victoria was then a city mostly comprised of tents. They made their home on a site later occupied by the Hudson’s Bay Company at the corner of Douglas and Fisgard Streets.   In the fall of 1861, the Alexanders moved to South Saanich. The family resided there for 33 years and farmed.   More about the Alexanders.

Mifflin Wistar Gibbs. Brick No. 2526 located at 1000 to 1002 Government Street.  Gibbs is considered the leader of the emigration of the 600 Blacks to Vancouver Island.  His business interests and achievements are varied and numerous.   On August 4, 2009 the Government of Canada recognized the historical significance of Mifflin Wistar Gibbs.   "Our government is proud to honor a man who worked tirelessly for the local Black Community as a politician, businessman, and defender of human rights". said Minister Prentice. "With today's commemoration, we take another step in bringing the national historic significance of Mifflin Wistar Gibbs to all Canadians”.  More about Mifflin Gibbs. 

Dandridge House, 1243 Rudlin Street, Victoria B.C.  This house was originally occupied by Black Pioneers Charlotte and John Dandridge from 1861 to 1871.  From 1864-1871 Sydnia Francis and Peter Lester of Lester and Gibbs actually owned the property and paid the taxes.  A plaque was unveiled at this location on February 9, 2014 through the efforts to the B.C. Black History Awareness Society and the current owners.