May 7, 2019
Since 2015, the mv Fundy Rose has been ferrying travellers between Saint John, New Brunswick and Digby, Nova Scotia. Sailing across the Bay of Fundy, it should come as no surprise where our ship got at least part of her name, but where does “Rose” come from? It’s actually a fantastic story that involves the American Revolution, trailblazing, and a little good fortune.
Join us for the story of Rose Fortune, and learn how she became the namesake of the mv Fundy Rose.
Rose Fortune was born around 1774 in Philadelphia. A child of the American Revolution, it is said that her parents were slaves belonging to a Devone family and were fleeing the United States for the North as loyalist refugees. They eventually arrived in Annapolis Royal, and it was here that Rose gained her freedom.
Interestingly, while there is extensive documentation for many Black Loyalists of her generation, much of Fortune’s early life remains a bit of a mystery. This may simply be a clerical error (the marriages of her children, for example, appear in the St. Luke’s Church of England records), or Fortune may have spent a great deal of her younger life away from Annapolis Royal. Some suggest she lived for a time in Saint John, though this is not confirmed.
What we do know about Rose Fortune is that she was a savvy businesswoman who saw an opportunity to start her own business in Annapolis Royal and seized it. She became a baggage carrier at the Annapolis wharf—transporting luggage off of boats arriving from Boston and Saint John to nearby homes and hotels. This luggage would include everything from personal effects such as bags and boxes to larger items like steamer trunks that she would push in her wheelbarrow. She was actually rarely ever seen without her wheelbarrow, and constantly pushing it around led many to describe her as very physically strong.
This strength certainly helped when she took on her next role—a law enforcement officer at the Port of Annapolis Royal. Fortune was known for her dedication to the position and seemingly revelled in making sure the town’s youth obeyed the law. There was one small problem, however, nobody gave her this job. In fact, she appointed herself to the position. Not that anybody was complaining, she was well known, well liked, and good at what she did. Whether official or not, most people now regard Rose Fortune as the first female law enforcement officer in Canada.
Rose Fortune died on February 20, 1864. She was believed to be about 90 when she passed away in the home that she owned near Fort Anne. Her modest grave in Annapolis Royal’s Garrison Cemetery was bestowed with a special marker on Canada Day, 2017. The marker, created by sculptor Brad Hall, depicts a stylized wheelbarrow that doubles as a memorial bench. Visitors to the grave are encouraged to sit and reflect on the important role Rose Fortune plays in history.
But this is not the only mark of her legacy on the region. In 1984, Rose Fortune’s direct descendant, Daurene Lewis, was elected Mayor of Annapolis Royal. Another trailblazer, Lewis was the first African-Canadian woman to hold this position.
And, of course, in May of 2015, Rose Fortune’s name was bestowed upon the mv Fundy Rose. We think her dedication to the area and trailblazing spirit made her a perfect choice.
You can learn more about Rose Fortune when you join us aboard the mv Fundy Rose. We look forward to sailing with you!