February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day

February is Black History Month, which honours the legacy of Black people and their communities across North America. Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) are pleased to highlight a sample of national historic designations related to Black history in Canada.

Are you aware of a subject related to Black history, or a person, place or event that may have national historical significance? Learn more about the nomination process to apply for a designation.

Larry Gains National Historic Person (1900-1983)
Portrait of a boxer
Larry Gains
© Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Archives

Larry Gains was designated a national historic person in 2020.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, in 1900, Larry Gains became one of the most talented and successful Canadian boxers in the first half of the 20th century and a prominent African Canadian figure.

Amherstburg First Baptist Church National Historic Site
Photo of a church
Amherstburg First Baptist Church
© Parks Canada, Jennifer Cousineau

The Amherstburg First Baptist Church was designated a national historic site in 2012.

Constructed by 1848–1849 at a terminus of the Underground Railroad near the Canada-U.S. border, this church offered sanctuary to African Americans fleeing slavery and helped foster a distinctive Black Baptist tradition in Ontario.

Commemorative plaque: 232 George St, Amherstburg, Ontario

R. Nathaniel Dett British Methodist Episcopal Church National Historic Site
Photo of a church
R. Nathaniel Dett British Methodist Episcopal Church
© Parks Canada, S. Ricketts, 1998

R. Nathaniel Dett British Methodist Episcopal Church was designated a national historic site in 2000.

The R. Nathaniel Dett British Methodist Episcopal Church illustrates the early Black settlement of the Niagara area and the role of the church in the reception, shelter and assistance of newly arrived Underground Railroad refugees. The Church is importantly associated with the formative years of R. Nathaniel Dett, a leading figure in 20th-century North American sacred music.

Commemorative plaque: 5674 Peer Street, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Africville National Historic Site
Photo of a building
Africville Museum, Halifax, Nova Scotia
© Parks Canada, 2019

Africville was designated a national historic site in 1997.

For over a century African Canadians settled in Africville, developing an independent community centred around church and family. Africville became a symbol of the ongoing struggle by African Canadians to defend their culture and their rights.

Commemorative plaque: 5795 Africville Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Portia May White National Historic Person (1911-1968)
Portrait of a woman
Portia May White, 1946
© Library and Archives Canada, Yousuf Karsh, PA-192783

Portia May White was designated a national historic person in 1995.

The first African-Canadian woman to win international acclaim, contralto Portia White had a remarkable career on the concert stage.

Commemorative plaque: 454 Prince Street, Truro, Nova Scotia

Buxton Settlement National Historic Site
Photo of a building
One of the buildings on the Buxton Settlement site.
© Parks Canada

Buxton Settlement was designated a national historic site in 1999.

The Buxton Settlement National Historic Site is a cultural landscape, where in 1849 Reverend William King arrived and settled with fifteen formerly enslaved people. Buxton lives on today through descendants of these determined immigrants, who carved out a free life for themselves and their families on the tranquil plains of southwestern Ontario.

Commemorative plaque: Buxton Museum 21979 A.D. Shadd Road (Road 6), Buxton, Ontario

Richard Pierpoint National Historic Person (c. 1744–c. 1838)
Image of a man holding a gun
Illustration of Richard Pierpoint by Malcolm Jones
© Malcolm Jones, 1.E.2.4-CGR2, Canadian War Museum

Richard Pierpoint was designated a national historic person in 2020.

Richard Pierpoint’s story illustrates the life of a Black Loyalist, ranging from his enslavement to his struggle for freedom during the American War of Independence and his civilian and military contributions after his establishment in Upper Canada.

Nominate a site, person, or event

Are you aware of a person, event or site that should be recognized by the Government of Canada for its national historic significance? Learn about the National Program of Historical Commemoration, or contact the Secretariat for the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada at clmhc-hsmbc@pc.gc.ca, or toll-free phone number: 1-855-283-8730.

Search through over 3,600 designations listed in the Directory of Federal Heritage Designations (DFHD)

The Directory of Federal Heritage Designations offers a complete list of federal designations stemming from various programs managed by Parks Canada. It includes information on designated persons, places, and events of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, as well as railway stations, lighthouses, and federal buildings that are of national historic value or interest.


Search the directory