Discover Beechville, Nova Scotia: A Rich History and Vibrant Community
Beechville, Nova Scotia, a suburban community within the Halifax Regional Municipality, is a Black Nova Scotian settlement with a population of 2,100. Nestled on the St. Margaret's Bay Road (Trunk 3), Beechville is home to the Beechville Lakeside Timberlea (BLT) trail, which starts near Lovett Lake and follows the line of the old Halifax and Southwestern Railway. The community is served by Ridgecliff Middle School, located in Beechville Estates, catering to the communities of Beechville, Lakeside, and Timberlea.
The Historical Journey of Beechville, Nova Scotia
The history of Beechville, Nova Scotia, dates back to 1816 when the first Black refugees from the War of 1812 arrived. These early settlers, fleeing from the southern American colonies, were granted five thousand acres (20 km²) close to the Northwest Arm in an area known as Refugee Hill. In 1821, ninety-six adults from this community resettled in Trinidad.
The spiritual leadership of the Beechville community was under the care of Baptist Pastor, Rev. John Burton from England. Although he preached in Beechville and many other communities, he did not establish a permanent meeting house. This task was accomplished in 1844 by Rev. Richard Preston, a refugee from the USA and a close follower of Rev. Burton, who established the first permanent meeting house/church of Beechville Baptist Church.
The Halifax and Southwestern Railway arrived in Beechville in 1902, sparking residential development after World War II and industrial development along the railway in the 1960s. The railway service ended in 2007, and the line was converted to the Beechville Lakeside Timberlea recreational trail.
Beechville, Nova Scotia in the 21st Century
The 21st century brought significant changes to Beechville, Nova Scotia. The community's shrinking boundaries have been a concern for decades. A 420-unit subdivision called Beechville Estates was developed in the historically Black community by Armco Capital between 1997 and 2004. However, issues surrounding illegal land encroachment and theft halted further development.
Similar issues were raised about the illegal expansion of what was previously called the Lakeside Industrial Park. Discriminate zoning laws practiced by the City of Halifax allowed an industrial park to open in a mostly residential area. The industrial park changed its name back to its original name, Beechville Industrial Park, in 2019 to honour the community's land that it is built on.
In 2014, the Beechville Baptist Church celebrated its 170th year of existence. As of the 2016 Census, 2,100 people lived in Beechville, though only 150 of those were African Nova Scotian. In 2018, Beechville was recognized as a site of historic importance under the Heritage Property Act by the province of Nova Scotia.