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Province honours African Nova Scotian William Hall on Heritage Day

By Kelli Rickard Feb 16, 2024 | 12:54 PM

William Hall Credit: NS Government

The first Nova Scotian and first person of African descent to be awarded the Victoria Cross is being honoured on Heritage Day

William Hall had a distinguished career with the Royal Navy in the 19th century and received the country’s highest award for his valour and bravery.

According to a release, “Hall was born in 1827, the son of African Americans who fled enslavement in Maryland during the War of 1812 and settled in Nova Scotia.”

He enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1852 and served in the Crimean War plus the First War of Indian Independence.

Hall retired as a petty officer first class in 1876 and died in 1904.

In 1947, a memorial was built in Hantsport honouring him.

In 2010, Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp and Parks Canada designated Hall a person of historical significance.

HMCS William Hall ship sponsor, Craig Gibson says he “was a shipbuilder, an able sailor and a naval hero who accomplished these things at a time when diversity and equality were not part of the common language.”

Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, Twila Grosse says, “We pay tribute to William Hall, a man whose resilience and bravery stand as a beacon for all Nova Scotians, from our ancestors to the present generation.

His story is a powerful reminder of the contributions African Nova Scotians have made to our province’s heritage and the ongoing importance of recognizing and celebrating these contributions.”

Among events honouring him, the province will pay tribute to Hall 11 a.m. Monday at Admiralty House Navy Museum in Halifax.

Also in Halifax, the city says there will a light show at dusk Friday night at Grafton Park until Monday at 11 p.m.

It will run for two minutes in tandem with two other light shows, including one for Heritage Month.

Since 2015, Heritage Day has been an annual statutory holiday recognizing the people and places that have contributed to this province’s history.