Rose Fortune (1774 – 1864)

Rose Fortune
Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, 1850

Rose Fortune was a Black Loyalist, a successful businesswoman and Canada's first woman police officer. Born into slavery in Philadelphia, Rose came north with her family via the Underground Railway. She was 10 when they settled in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Little is known about Fortune's early years in Canada, but by middle age she had established a business as a luggage carrier, using a wheelbarrow to transport bags and parcels from Annapolis Royal's wharves to local homes and hotels. Noted for her vigorous protection of her clients' property, she soon became the town's unofficial waterfront police officer. A plaque there now tells her story, and a Bay of Fundy ferry has been named in her honour. Fortune passed on her business to her grandson-in-law, Albert Lewis, who operated it as the Lewis Transfer Company until 1980.

“The small but sturdy woman established principles for behaviour on the wharves, and in the town as well. She set curfews and brooked no arguments. Dressed in layers of both women’s and men’s clothing, she was also well armed with a stick to enforce her rules.” (Susanna McLeod)

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