A new short documentary focuses on the impact of Black pioneer settlers in Victoria in the 1850s. (Screenshot/Youtube)

Black History Month: Documentary sheds light on black pioneers’ role in Victoria

Secret Victoria: Rush to Freedom looks at how a mass migration shaped the capital

A Victoria-based documentary explores the important role of black pioneers in B.C.’s history.

Secret Victoria: Rush to Freedom was created by Vancouver-based producer Anthony Brown and Telus Originals director Melinda Friedman.

It looks at how a rush of black immigrants in the 1850s helped shaped the Victoria we know today.

READ MORE: Black History Month – The Alexander family was among the first Black pioneers in B.C.

In 1850, then Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island, James Douglas – a man many people don’t realize was of mixed heritage himself – invited American black people from San Francisco to come settle in Victoria as free British citizens to combat the growing threat of American invasion. In California at the time, black people did not hold many rights, including proper citizenship. As a result, hundreds of black people took the chance of heading north.

The documentary picks the brains of local historians to understand the context of the migration, and the ripple effect it had on the capital’s history.

Brown has produced several documentaries, including a full-length documentary titled “Go Do Something Great” which explores black history in the province and is shown in local school systems. When Telus asked him to help with the Secret Victoria project he was delighted.

ALSO READ: Black History Month – ‘My family has been here since before Canada was a country’

“When I was growing up as a kid I wanted to learn something like that … as a person of colour I felt myself being left out,” Brown said. “We learned a lot about the British, a little bit about native history, but not a lot about black people.”

Brown had a lot of fun putting the documentary together, and said he’s glad to offer another opportunity for people to learn about Victoria’s real history.

ALSO READ: Royal Roads honours Black History Month by celebrating black excellence

Brown will soon retire from his job at Port Vancouver, allowing him to focus fully on his production company, Brownie Productions. His next documentary will look at a Vancouver neighbourhood once known as Hogan’s Alley, a predominantly black neighbourhood where Brown’s parents were married.

The documentary can be found at youtube.com.

Anyone with questions about the documentary is welcome to contact Brown at brownieproductions@shaw.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Barb Wright and Cynthia Vance at the District Electoral Office for the Langford-Juan de Fuca (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Polls now closed in Langford-Juan de Fuca

An estimated 12,120 mail-in ballots were requested in the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding

B.C. Election 2020: Voting stations will be open across B.C. from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 24. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Polling stations see steady stream of voters for B.C. Election Day, no long lines

Same-day voting stations will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 24

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

New Democratic leader John Horgan during Monday's campaign stop in Sidney. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
NDP John Horgan wins Langford-Juan de Fuca

BC Green candidate Gord Baird takes second place early in the polls

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Most Read