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Campsie

A group of about 10 Black families came to the hamlet of Campsie, just south of Barrhead, in 1910. Campsie was home to a significantly smaller Black population: a 1921 census indicated that there were 50 Blacks living in the area. Unlike the other Black settlements, Campsie already had a well-established White community of British and American settlers. In fact, Campsie was founded by the Wallace family, who arrived there from Scotland in 1907.

Black settlers in Campsie tended to live in the area north of the post office. Members of the Black community socialized extensively among themselves and tended to avoid any potential conflicts with White settlers living nearby. Discrimination against Blacks in Campsie’s local school was common.

Bethel Cemetery, built in 1913, served the local Black community as a burial ground. A local church was also built; in addition to its spiritual works, it also hosted dances and debates.

Andrew RisbyDuring the 1930s, the Ontario-based religious group, the Standard Church of America, through a series of revival meetings and Christian services designed to convert residents to the church, made a considerable impact on the community of Campsie. In time, several Campsie residents became Black preachers for the Standard Church and spread its message across Alberta. In 1935, after participating for the first time in a service held by the Standard Church of America, Andrew Risby, born in Campsie, dedicated his life to the church. Ten years later, he moved to Calgary and established the Calgary branch of the Standard Church of America, which became the principal church for Blacks living in Calgary. The majority of Campsie’s Black community, particularly at the onset of the Second World War, also moved to Alberta’s larger urban centres.


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