Plaque unveiling “Black Pioneers in BC”

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board plaque (designation date: 1997-09-22) commemorating the arrival of the Black settlers in 1858 as “an event of national historic significance” is located at the Central Saanich United Church, 7180 East Saanich Road, Vancouver Island,  formerly The Shady Creek Church. Society and church members, families and friends gathered for the plaque unveiling ceremony at the church on February 20, 2000.  

In 1858, nearly 800 free Blacks left the oppressive racial conditions of San Francisco for a new life on Vancouver Island. Governor James Douglas had invited them here as promising settlers. Though still faced with intense discrimination, these pioneers enriched the political, religious and economic life of the colony. For example, Mifflin Gibbs became a prominent politician; Charles and Nancy Alexander initiated the Shady Creek Methodist Church; John Deas established a salmon cannery; and the group formed one of the earliest colonial militia units, the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps.