Monday, June 8, 2009

Delap's Cove

I am going to take a bit of a turn in my narrative of the history of the Black Loyalists. Yesterday afternoon I took a walk on one of the wilderness trails at Delap's Cove. This Bayshore community is located about 15 minutes from Annapolis Royal. This wonderful nature trail descends through a forest to the shore of the Bay of Fundy where you can see across to New Brunswick on a clear day. On the return loop, the trail passes a waterfall which can be quite striking during the Spring. One of the most interesting parts of this trail could easily be missed by many hikers. In fact, at the start of the trail is located one of this region's most important and most unknown cultural landscapes.

As you walk the trail, this spot could easily be bypassed as simply another random collection of moss covered rocks. If you look closely, you can see that there is indeed some order to the rocks. These are the remains of a house in the Black Loyalist community of Delap's Cove.

At the end of the American Revolution, both free and enslaved blacks came to Nova Scotia. This was a relatively secluded community which arose from the fact that Black Loyalists were often granted the worst tracts of land. The people who lived here could have easy access to the amenities of Digby or Annapolis Royal by water but this is not prime agricultural land. The north side of the North Mountain is rocky and harsh. The rocks which made this foundation would have first been removed from any land under cultivation. Additional rocks can be found in the stone fence rows which line the trails.

The foundation is quite small. If I were to guess I would say that the building was about 10 feet square (about 3 meters square). It would be big enough for a fireplace, a table, a few chairs and space to sleep. The larger the family grew the more space would be needed for sleeping. Among the families who once lived in this community were the Simms, Skanks, Pomp (Stephenson), Currie, Johnson and Brothers. One of the later families to arrive is the Marsman family who previously lived in the Halifax area. While one house still stands, there are currently no people living in this part of Delap's Cove.

Once you know who lived here, this is a very moving landscape. These people once lived in slavery. They are the descendants of Africans who were crammed into ships and brought to the New World. Some may have even made this voyage themselves. On receiving their freedom, these people were given very poor land in an inaccessible part of the province. These stones are a testament to their struggle against racism, politics and the elements. Their humble memorial is a moss covered foundation.

All for now,


  1. Leisure, The Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper.

  2. I am a ancestor, of the Pomp Family. My name is Duston Stevenson. I have research my family for over 10 years. My family, meaning, mother, then her mother which is my grandmother and etc. We are Black Indians. We are holding a gathering there on August 2 2009. One of the names not mention, is also Francis and Jackson. This is the only Black Indian Reserve in the 1800's.

  3. Kwe'

    I too had relatives who called this place home. My ancestors were the Francis clan who moved to the area from N.B.and assimulated with the Simms who also assimulated with the local aboriginals.We have called this place our homestead since we learned of our connection to this land. Many stories from our elders have been told of their history and their practices in this area. Many stories of clan members rowing from N.B. too Delaps Cove by canoe and to the Digby area. They were a strong people who lived off the land and especially the sea.

    L'nuk wela'lin

    Lee Francis

  4. Hello,
    I wish I'd known about the 2009 gathering - I'd have liked to come to talk to people.
    I'm an archaeologist and, as far as I know, the only archaeologist to have done any investigation in this area so far. I am preparing to defend my PhD dissertation(expect April/May 2011) - a significant portion of which forcuses on the cultural landscape of the African Diasporic people who settled the Delap's Cove community that is now abandoned except for Charlie M. I love this place and I believe in the testament of it to the lives of Black Loyalist descendents (not all Black Loyalists had been enslaved - some were born and lived free, but most had been enslaved at some point). Anyhow, just wanted to touchbase with folks. I'd love to do more work in Delap's Cove, with the interpretation and the archaeology, but I think commemorating it as it now sits would be an important component to the people's history. Also, I am very interested (once my dissertation is cleared) to further investigate the common heritage of L'nuk - particularly Mi'kmaq - and African Nova Scotians. It is a poorly understood and researched area that many people seem to remain interested in exploring. A man once showed me his family photo of siblings (and yes, his surname was Francis) and asked whether i'd call his family Black or Mi'kmaq - he and his siblings looked variously like one or the other community in their expression of physical traits - but they all had the same Mum & Dad....such a watershed moment in my learning!!!
    Anyhow - thanks to all the folks interested in this work - it's encouraging to know that others might be interested in the work I've done because Delap's Cove is a special place to them too.
    cheers/ Wela'lioq

  5. The house that may still be standing belonged to my Grand Mother Florence Marsmen.....
    Gran-Daughter Yolande Clayton (Parker)

  6. Delap's Cove is represented by Delap's Cove Black Indian Pioneer Society which represents the Black Mi'kmaqs of Delap's Cove, Annapolis co. NS. Black Mi'kmaq settlement is also known as Medabankeajtc First Nation to our people and ancestors. Medabankeajtc First Nation is the only Black Mi'kmaq aboriginal band known to Canada. Black Mi'kmaqs are also known as the diappearing Indians. Here is an article link or google diappearing indians black Mi'kmaqs of nova scotia. DCBIPS are in partnership with Aboriginal Affairs and African Affairs to help assist DCBIPS. This link is African Affairs accountablity report, go to page 8, section on DCBIPS If you want local report, shorelines news, look at this link scroll through until you reach FOOTSTEPS ON THE LAND

    Thank you
    Delap's Cove Black Indian Pioneer Society
    Vice Chief Duston Stevenson

  7. my great grand mother my Margaret Marsman[born1859]Hammonsplains rd married to Bill Hill[born 1856]Beechville,does any one know any history on Margaret,do the Marsman's have native blood,thanks

  8. I also am related to ancestors in Delaps Cove. My Great-Grandmother was a Inez Simms/Sims. My Grandmother, Marguerite Eleanor Hall(Simms), real father is unknown but have been recently told that it is someone from Delaps Cove with the last name of "Brother".