The Maroons in Nova Scotia


203 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88780-569-8
DDC 971.6'0049607292




Reviewed by Clint MacNeil

Clint MacNeil teaches history, geography, and world religion at St.
Charles College in Sudbury, Ontario.


Eighteenth-century Nova Scotia conjures images of resolute Highland
Scots exiled during the Clearances. Similarly, the Maroons were banished
from Jamaica in 1796 and forced to “thrive where the pineapple does

The term “Maroon” applied to slaves who broke free from captivity.
During the early 1500s, Spaniards introduced African slaves into the
Jamaican labor force. When Jamaica fell into English hands, the Maroons
waged guerrilla war from the mountains and successfully negotiated their
freedom in 1739. Following 56 years of relative peace, ill-will between
Maroons the Jamaican government erupted in 1795. The result was the
forced exile of the Maroons (to Nova Scotia) on the grounds that they
“stood in the way of peaceful and profitable imperial order.”

There was little opposition to the arrival of the Maroons: not only did
they arrive with a credit of Ј25,000 from the Jamaican government, but
Halifax needed them to maintain the garrison at Citadel Hill in
anticipation of a French attack. Grant describes the struggles of the
colony’s lieutenant governor, Sir John Wentworth, to entrench the
Maroons in Nova Scotian society. But fellow administrator Alexander
Ochterlony undermined his efforts by convincing the Maroons that it was
in their best interest to leave Nova Scotia for a more hospitable
climate. By 1800, the Nova Scotian Maroons had resettled in Sierra
Leone. Wentworth’s paternalistic campaign to settle and Christianize
the Maroons failed because the Maroons were not about to abandon their
customs (including polygamy), traditions, and culture.

This meticulously researched and documented book brings to light a
fascinating and little-known chapter in Nova Scotia history.


Grant, John N., “The Maroons in Nova Scotia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024,