The New Brunswick Museum Exhibition Centre will be closed until further notice

Black History Month – February 2023

As sorting, cataloguing and research occurs at the New Brunswick Museum, additional or more detailed information is brought to light. Digitization permits the sharing of information that had been available previously only at in-person visits. For Black History Month, February 2023, some newly digitized archival material were featured each week.

Week 1

In a Memorandum booklet dating from 1792 to 1803, Munson Jarvis (1742-1825), a Loyalist merchant and politician, kept account of his many business transactions. The booklet contains records of sales, leases and the wages paid to a number of individuals including members of the Black community: a man named Cornelius, a woman named Jane, Silas Smith, Sarah Kinsley, Rachel Johnstone and Ishma[e]l Col[l]ey. It is extremely rare to find such specific references. This makes these records an invaluable resource for the better understanding of society and daily life over two centuries ago.


Memorandum booklet, 1792-1803
18.3 x 11.4
Gift of Mary Percy (Domville) Ross-Ross, 1959 (Jarvis Family Fonds)
Collection of the New Brunswick Museum, Archives & Research Library

Week 2Abraham Beverley Walker (1851-1909), the first Black lawyer admitted to the bar in Canada, adamantly advocated against racial discrimination. As a lawyer, intellectual and author, Walker used his skills to raise awareness and seek justice for the Black, or Afro-Canadian, community. In 1889 he decided to move to Atlanta, Georgia, where prospects of a career for a Black lawyer with his training “…were exceedingly hopeful and encouraging…”, as he wrote to Sir Leonard Tilley asking for a letter of recommendation. Within two years, however, he was back in New Brunswick. In 1903-1904,Walker also has the distinction of publishing Neith, an important monthly journal that sought to raise the level of discourse on art, literature and social issues. It was the first such publication in the Black community in the country. His uncompromising search for justice led him to open his own legal practice and to perform as an officer for the Saint John Law Society. After the disappointment of being passed over for an appointment as QC, and later a KC, he invested his energy into the founding and development of the African Civilization Movement and he travelled throughout North America lecturing on his ideas about the inequalities facing the Black community.

Correspondence from Abraham B. Walker to Sir Leonard Tilley, Saint John, NB, requesting a letter of recommendation.
5 November 1889
17.7 x 11.2 cm
Tilley Family fonds



Abraham Beverley Walker, Editor
Neith : a magazine of literature, science, art, philosophy, jurisprudence, criticism, history, reform, economics.
Volume 1, No. 1
February 1903
24.3 x 16.7 cm

PER FC 2541 N46

Week 3

In 2004, the Archives & Research Library of the New Brunswick Museum purchased a small, but important booklet that outlined the initial meetings of the Saint John Association for the Advancement of Colored People (SJAACP). The association was established in September 1949 and met at the Calvary Baptist Church at 39 Waterloo Street, Saint John, NB. In the Evening Times Globe, 23 September 1949, a news report stated, “This society aims to improve the economic, cultural and political life of the colored people of the community.” Several topics listed in the minute book included media portrayal, jury duty, housing and school materials. It also contained a letter from Bernice Williams, Secretary of the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who provided some literature on their own incorporation. Little additional information has surfaced on the SJAACP but it may have been superseded by the Colored Progress(ive) Association which opened a Community Hall on Hilyard Street, Saint John, NB, in November 1950. It is also interesting to note that a provincial organization, New Brunswick Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded in 1959.


Correspondence from Bernice Williams, NSAACP, Halifax, N.S. to F.B. Hodges, Saint John, N.B. congratulating the Saint John Association on its establishment.
4 September 1949
27.8 x 21.5 cm
Saint John Association for the Advancement of Colored People fonds
Archives & Research Library, New Brunswick Museum

Bound Volume
Minute Book of the Saint John Association for the Advancement of Colored People
6 September to 28 November 1949
24 x 17.9 cm
Saint John Association for the Advancement of Colored People fonds
Archives & Research Library, New Brunswick Museum

Week 4

Lantic Sugar Refineries Limited in Saint John, NB, employed hundreds of workers over its eighty-five year history, including members from the Black community. Originally called Atlantic Sugar Refineries Limited, the Charlotte Street plant received its first shipment of raw sugar in 1915. It would eventually close in 2000, when the decision was made to consolidate operations in Montréal.

The company published various newsletters over its history including the Employees’ Bulletin; Sugar Cube; Horizons; and Lantic Insight. Topics covered not only the ongoing operations of the refinery, but also the activities of the employees including the Lantic Recreation Association (LRA), Lantic Credit Union and various charity fundraisers. The newsletters often highlighted milestones of employees whether it was for long service, retirement or personal events like marriages, births, graduations and scholarships etc.


Harvey Studios Limited
Photograph: Lantic Sugar Refinery Employees enrolled in the Apprenticeship Training Program at Saint John Vocational School, New Brunswick.
Back Row: Frank McCormick, Millwright Apprentice; David Wood, Millwright Apprentice; Harris Reinhart, Millwright Apprentice
Front Row: Ralph Scott, Stationary Engineer apprentice; Blake Hoyt, Motor Mechanic Apprentice; Ralph Drost, Electrician Apprentice
silver print
overall: 20.4 x 25.3 cm
Lantic Sugar Refineries Limited fonds
Photographer Unknown
Photograph: Armin Rach, Filter House Foreman, presenting Profit Improvement Program (P.I.P.) cheque to Fred Kennedy, Melt House Operator, Lantic Sugar Refineries Limited, Saint John, New Brunswick
silver print
overall: 20.2 x 25.3 cm
Lantic Sugar Refineries Limited fonds
Photographer Unknown
Photograph: Lewis Young being presented his Journeyman Certificate for Completion of Apprenticeship in the Welding Trade by John Short, Mechanical Superintendent, Lantic Sugar Refineries Limited, Saint John, New Brunswick
silver print
overall: 20.5 x 25.4 cm
Lantic Sugar Refineries Limited fonds
Harvey Studios Limited
Photograph: Walter Johnson, Melt House Operator, receives a Profit Improvement Program (P.I.P) cheque from Shift Supervisor, Leslie Smith, Lantic Sugar Refineries Limited, Saint John, New Brunswick
silver print
overall: 20.5 x 25.3 cm
Lantic Sugar Refineries Limited fonds
Photographer Unknown
Photograph: William Brown, 35 Year Milestone, Centrifugal Operator, Lantic Sugar Refineries Limited, Saint John, New Brunswick
silver print
overall: 12 x 8.5 cm
Lantic Sugar Refineries Limited fonds
Sugar Cube
Vol III, No.11, November 1959
28 x 21 cm
PER HD 9100.1 S93