Saint Philip's African Orthodox Church

34 Hankard St, Whitney Pier, Nova Scotia B1N 2C2, Canada

St. Philip's African Orthodox Church is located on Hankard Street in the area of Sydney, Cape Breton known as Whitney Pier. This wooden church with Gothic style elements was built between 1900 and 1915. The building and property are located in the provincial designation.

St. Philip's African Orthodox Church is valued for its role in preserving Nova Scotia's West Indian heritage and for its association with the industrialization of Nova Scotia.

Over the years, St. Philip's has become one of the most important institutions in the Black community of Sydney; a community which originated mainly in the West Indies (Barbados) and whose members emigrated to Sydney during Cape Breton's industrial boom of the early 20th century.

The African Orthodox Church was originated by George Alexander McGuire in the United States in the early 1920s. Born in Antigua, McGuire traveled to the United States in 1892 and became a minster with the Episcopal Church of America. In 1913 he returned to Antigua to serve in his boyhood parish. Aware of the rising black consciousness following World War I, McGuire returned to the United States with the intention of starting an Independant Black Church.

This action coincided with the advent of the radical Marcus Garvey Black Movement in the United States. Garvey, born in Jamaica, led what was to be the largest and most successful mass movement of Black people in the history of the United States. In the early 1920s, Garvey initiated the Universal Negro Improvement Association which was designed to work towards political, economic and religious independance of Blacks in America, the West Indies and Africa.

Garvey was know to have crusaded in Sydney in the early 1920s and that several branches of the UNIA were active in industrial Cape Breton, several of which continue to the present time. In the formative years of the UNIA, Reverend McGuire was invited by Marcus Garvey to be chaplain of the organization. This acceptance by McGuire laid the groundwork for the African Orthodox Church.

Canada's Historic Places

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  • Parking
  • Accessible

Opening hours

  • Saturday Closed
  • Sunday Closed
  • Monday Closed
  • Tuesday Closed
  • Wednesday Closed
  • Thursday Closed
  • Friday Closed



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