William Hall was the son of freed African-American slaves from Maryland who settled in Nova Scotia after the War of 1812.

Hall was the first Black person, the first Nova Scotian and one of the first Canadians to receive the British Empire’s highest award for bravery, the Victoria Cross during the Indian Mutiny and the siege of Lucknow in August 1857.

After the Second World War the Canadian Legion branch in Hantsport was named Lucknow for the place where William Hall earned his award.

Tribute to the Valor and Worth of Wm Hall, Who Won the V.C. in Crimean War – Hantsport Advance 1904

In 1945 the late J. Edward Borden, undertaker to William Hall in 1904, and Mr. Ira B. Lohnes plus Legion Members, reinterred his remains from Stoney Hill Cemetery in Lockhartville on the lawn of the Hantsport Baptist Church. In 1947 a memorial was built by the late E. A. Gollan of Hantsport. On Sunday, November 9th of the same year, during a heavy rain, a memorial service was held at which time the plaque on the Memorial was unveiled by Admiral Taylor.

Hall’s original Victoria Cross was repatriated from Britain in 1967 by the government of Nova Scotia and is on permanent display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax.

1967 Centennial Commemorative Ceremony

1967 Commemorative Ceremony – photo by Bernard Gregg

More information and photos from the 1967 Ceremony are given in the Hantsport Story published in November 2021.

Heroes of the Victoria Cross by T. E. Toomey, published 1895

William Hall was designated a National Historic Person by the Canadian Historic Sites and Monuments Board at Hantsport on 8 October 2010 and a new plaque was unveiled in his honour.

Canada Post commemorated William Hall on a stamp, first issued on 1 February 2010 in Hantsport, Nova Scotia and officially launched at the Black Cultural Centre on 2 February 2010.

Hall is also featured in exhibits at the Halifax Citadel, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and at the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia.

In November 2010, a connector road in Hantsport was named the William Hall VC Memorial Highway. Signs bearing Hall’s likeness were erected on the road from Highway 101 to Trunk 1.

It was announced on 26 June 2015 that the fourth ship in the Royal Canadian Navy’s Harry DeWolf class would be named for William Hall. The ship will be constructed at Halifax Shipyards in Halifax.

The keel laying ceremony was held on 17 Feb 2021.

Sources for further research:

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Black History Canada

Dictionary of Canadian Biography

The Canadian Encyclopedia

Monuments Canada

Canada Post

Veterans Affairs Canada

Victoria Cross UK