The Buildings of Africville

Recently the former residents of Africville have re-launched a suit for compensation for lost property. This seemed like a good time to release a work in progress. I ran through minutes of council meetings from the 1960s and recorded the owners and compensation paid to each resident.

I cannot claim to be an expert in race relations, or the very real discrimination that black people feel, but reading through the City of Halifax Council minutes – expropriation of property in the ’60s was done with an ease that the current council awards repaving contracts. Reports from experts and support from the Federal government enabled a Canada-wide program of slum clearance, that was reinforced by reports from social welfare experts. Hundreds of poor people, living in “slums”  and “unsanitary conditions” were displaced and re-located, not just from Africville, but from the areas of Scotia Square, Cogswell Interchange, and along Barrington Street to North.

The Africville Relocation Program ran between 1964 and 1967. Each property number below corresponds to city plan P500-46A, and council minutes address expropriations by those numbers. Properties expropriated with clear title, the owner received full value. Those without clear title were awarded $500 + expenses. Was this discriminatory? On the face – no, however it should be noted that a woman who lacked clear title to land required for the West Street Fire Department Headquarters was Paid $4000 in settlement.

When you click on a building, you can find out who the owners were and what was paid as compensation. Several properties had outstanding hospital and tax bills, which were paid off as part of the package. (At this time the city ran the hospitals, not the province.) Some properties could not be found in minutes, or were addressed without mention of the number, so the map features some errata.

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BuiltHalifax delves into architectural history and theory with a local slant. Produced by Peter Ziobrowski, it is the sister project to