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Sun, 03.13.1774

Rose Fortune born

Rose Fortune

*The birth of Rose Fortune in 1774 is celebrated on this date. She was a Black Canadian law enforcement officer and businesswoman.

Fortune was born into slavery in Virginia, owned by the Devone family.   In 1783 when she was ten years old, they escaped to New York City then the Nova Scotia (Canada) town of Annapolis Royal.  Fortune came from a family of Black Loyalists, (escaped slaves and free Blacks who joined the British army during the American Revolution) . The British army promised any slave freedom in return for their loyalty.

In the late 1700s she appointed herself policewoman of the Annapolis Royal, located on the north shore of Nova Scotia. Although Fortune carried no badge, she had a unique way of dressing.  Her petticoat showed under her dress, and over her dress she wore a man's waistcoat and an apron.  She wore a lace cap which was tied under her hair and a straw hat on top of the lace cap. Her painted shoes had heels which were several inches high. She usually carried a straw basket and wore white gloves or mittens. Her dress was later adopted by many of the Black Pioneer women when they went to market.

Fortune also started a trucking service for ferry boat passengers using a wheelbarrow to carry luggage to their homes or hotels. Fortune died in 1864 at the age of 90.  Her funeral was held at St. Luke's Anglican Church in Annapolis Royal. She is buried in an unmarked grave in the Royal Garrison cemetery.

Reference:
From Slavery to Freetown
by Mary Louise Clifford
Jefferson, NC, 1999

The Black Loyalist Directory
by Graham Russell Hodges
New York, 1996

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