Rose Fortune: Spicy Ginger Rose

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Rose Fortune left no words behind – only actions.

As a freed slave in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia she started a carting business, hauling luggage and freight with her wheelbarrow. She also offered a wake up service, and was soon the self appointed law of the wharf and the town.

The Association of Black Law Enforcers has created a scholarship in her name, and her descendant Daurene Lewis became the first Black female mayor in North America.


Biographical notes:

📍3/13/1774 Philly, PA – 2/20/1864 Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada
Slave born, AA, escaped to Canada with family, entrepreneur, self appointed peace keeper, first woman cop in Canada, family run business 100 years Lewis Transfer, law scholarship in her name,
Source: Women Who Dared

📍Sun, 03.13.1774
Rose Fortune, Law Enforcement Officer born

The birth of Rose Fortune in 1774 is celebrated on this date. She was a Black Canadian law enforcement officer and businesswoman.

Fortune was born into slavery in Virginia, owned by the Devone family. In 1783 when she was ten years old, they escaped to New York City, then the Nova Scotia (Canada) town of Annapolis Royal.

Fortune came from a family of Black Loyalists (escaped slaves and free Blacks who joined the British army during the American Revolution). The British army promised any slave freedom in return for their loyalty.

⭐️ In the late 1700s, she appointed herself policewoman of the Annapolis Royal, located on the north shore of Nova Scotia.

👗 Although Fortune carried no badge, she had a unique way of dressing. Her petticoat showed under her dress, and over her dress, she wore a man’s waistcoat and an apron. She wore a lace cap tied under her hair and a straw hat on top of the lace cap. Her painted shoes had heels that were several inches high. She usually carried a straw basket and wore white gloves or mittens. Her dress was later adopted by many of the Black Pioneer women when they went to market.

🚚 Fortune also started a trucking service for ferry boat passengers using a wheelbarrow to carry luggage to their homes or hotels.

🕊 Fortune died in 1864 at the age of 90. Her funeral was held at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Annapolis Royal. She is buried in an unmarked grave in the Royal Garrison cemetery.

In their words:

Some 20 years later, a Lieutenant-Colonel Sleigh of the 77th Regiment wrote of a chance encounter with Rose in 1852:

“I was aided in my hasty efforts to quit the abominable inn by a curious old Negro woman, rather stunted in growth…and dressed in a man’s coat and felt hat; she had a small stick in her hand which she applied lustily to the backs of all who did not jump instantly out of the way. Poor old dame! She was evidently a privileged character.”


🍵 Tea inspired by this remarkable woman:

Spicy Ginger Rose Tea – Feisty Fortune Tea

Written by



Rhonni has been a restaurateur and serial entrepreneur within the Renaissance Festival industry for over 3 decades. She loves tea. She created Tea & Strumpets at the intersections of Cosplay, Flavor, and Herstories.

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