Slave beating carving on display

Carla Allen callen@thevanguard.ca
Published on February 21, 2013

A carving that portrays a distressful happening in Yarmouth’s past is on display at the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives for the next several weeks.

Sharon Robart-Johnson, author of Africa’s Children - A History of Blacks In Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, commissioned carver Bruce Jacquard two years ago to create a scene that depicts the beating of a slave.  

Jude was a slave in Raynardton who was flayed to death by two of her owner’s sons.

Robart-Johnson says she believes Jude was brought to Nova Scotia with the United Empire loyalists and then resold to Samuel Andrews in Raynardton.

She believes Jude was approximately nine-years-old at that time, in 1783. When she died in the 1800s she would have been in her mid-20s.

“She stole food, because she was hungry,” said Robart-Johnson.

She says Jude was whipped for her stealing

many times. When she stole bread and cheese the boys chased her and beat her so badly, she died from her injuries. There were wounds that were six-inches-long and two-inches-deep on her neck and her head.

“Had she any medical help she may not have died… but she did,” said Robart-Johnson.

She was speechless when she first saw the carving,

“It’s so powerful. It humanizes her. She was basically a name, a chattel, and eventually she was nothing.

“To me, she’s human. My sister says you champion her and I think I do. I think she deserves it after all she was put through.”

Jacquard says his main challenge was to line up the separate parts to show the woman’s correct anatomy.

Her upper body and feet are walnut; her light-coloured skirt is basswood.

The base, which is shaped like the continent of Africa, is made from red cedar.

Because Jacquard wanted to make the man a little more obscure than the woman, he carved him out of butternut and used a nondescript mahogany for the stick he is holding.

“I had to make everything to the scale of the lady because she was the principal in the whole thing.

“People know immediately what it’s supposed to signify. It intrigued me when I read the book. It’s embarrassing when you think that actually happened in this area.”