This article is dedicated to my Reddick family. Honoring those who have passed, acknowledging those who are living, and leaving a mark for those who are not yet born.
It’s truly an honour to stand on the shoulders of the elders in my family. To think about the hardships that they had to face while growing up, working and raising their families as Black people. It’s a true blessing to be able to preserve the rich history and legacy that my maternal family had started. It is because of their hard work, sacrifices and resilience that I am who I am.
I am a fifth generation Reddick, who grew up in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. I take great pride in my family’s legacy and accomplishments. When I was younger, I couldn’t understand the kingdom that was created for all my Reddick family members, but now I do. As a Black youth, I have an obligation to my family, community and ancestors to ensure that I do the research, ask my elders questions, and preserve every aspect of Black history that I can.
This past Thursday, on June 17th, we held a ceremony for the name change of Martin Drive in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. The street was changed to “Reddick Lane”. The name change was initiated by me in recognition of the long time that the Reddick family has resided on the land surrounding the formerly named Martin Drive. The ceremony was compliments of my cousin Karen Patterson and mother Joy Reddick-Desmond.
After some research, I found out that my great-great-Grandfather, Joseph Reddick, and his newlywed, Gertrude Mintis, first purchased a lot of land on Martin Drive in 1912, evidence that the Reddick family has occupied that land for 109 years.
I think it goes without saying how big of a deal land ownership is today, especially when it has historic roots of this nature. It is remarkable how in 1912 a young Black man had the means and vision to acquire land. Land that was not gifted or sold from a family member. My great-great grandfather was a young man when he moved from his small community. Looking at this through a historic lens this was a great accomplishment, given the historic racist treatment of Black people in the early 1900’s.
Reflecting on the timeline, it is very rare that you see land ownership for this long in the Black Community. For 109 years, the Reddick family was able to keep this land in the family through all the historic hardships.
My great-great grandfather, Joseph Reddick, was born in the town of Mulgrave located in Guysborough County, in 1887. As a young man, Grandfather moved to New Glasgow, and was a jack of all trades. Had been employed with the Pottery, Standard Clay, a truck man for himself and Lem Mills, and retiring from Maritime Steel.
His wife, Gertrude Mintis, formerly of Springhill in Cumberland County, moved to New Glasgow. Together, the two shared sixteen children, and the youngest still living. Phyllis Patterson, the youngest child of Joseph and Gertrude (Mintis) Reddick turned 86 on the day of the change.
As Aunt Phil is the Matriarch of the Reddick family, one can only imagine the pride that she must feel to see the roadway that she was raised on, and that she raised her children on named in honour of her parents.
The street name change came about in August of 2020, when I wrote a letter to the Town of New Glasgow Council, requesting for the street to be changed. In the letter, I wrote the following:
I am writing to you with the request to have Martin Drive, which is a small roadway that is positioned between Old Marsh Road and the Vale Road renamed. This is something that has been talked about in our family for many years, but the request was never formally delivered to council.
The reason for this request is that our family has resided for many generations on this roadway, and currently owns all the property. My great great-grandfather, Mr. Joseph Reddick originally bought the land many years ago, and later his children and other family members acquired the surrounding parcels of land.
We have had a presence on this roadway for over 100 years, and it would be fitting to have the opportunity for our presence, and long family history to be acknowledged by renaming the roadway Reddick Lane. As the oldest living member of the Reddick family, Phyllis Patterson, still resides on this roadway, I think it would be a great tribute.
So, I ask the Town Council of New Glasgow to consider this request.
From this point, Council was very prompt in their response. The town’s Engineer was supportive of the name change, as there was another roadway within New Glasgow that was named Martin Street. So, it was good timing and good practice to have it switched.
The town was not going to change the street until July 5th, but with Aunt Phil’s birthday being on June 17th, and where she is not in the best of health, I asked the town if they would switch it over on June 17, and the town was more than willing.
Even though I am only 22 years old, I remember hearing the stories of this family land. I was raised near this roadway, I played on this roadway with my cousins, and I picked apples and sugar berries along this roadway. I recall hearing the story when my mother’s father, James Reddick Sr. moved a house from one piece of land to another. With the help of some community members, they jacked the house and had it moved. Today, the house still stands.
I often hear people in my community say, be the change that the ancestors dreamed of. The only thing that I can hope for is that this change is one that my great-great grandfather is proud of. Due to his hard-work, 109 years later his family is able to witness the fruits of his labor. Thank you, Grandfather.
Black History Matters! Black Land Ownership Matters! And Black Family Land Matters!