“I am a volunteer for the right of human nature…”
– Ward Chipman, Fredericton, 1799
George Rexford Leek (1787-1861) was born a slave to Lt Col Isaac Allen. He is also believed to be Isaac Allen’s son. His mother was Sabinah Grant, also one of Isaac Allen’s slaves. After Allen gave George his freedom and sold him farmland in Springhill (land George had no doubt worked since birth), George married Jane Hector, the daughter of another Black family in Maugerville. Together, George and Jane raised a large family, and later generations contributed several voices to the noted African-Canadian choir at St. Peter’s Anglican Church.
George and his son, William Leek, were the chief carpenters of St Peter’s Anglican Church, which was completed in 1838. Many in Fredericton’s Black community worshipped in this church, and their members comprised one third of the congregation. These families included surnames such as Leek, Payne, Henry, McCarthy (McCarty), Taylor, and Dymond.
George Leek’s son and namesake served for many years as sexton of St Peter’s, and the church congregation helped raise funds for his family home when it burned to the ground in 1881. The Leek family gravesite stands prominently in the churchyard of St Peter’s, surrounded by five generations of Leeks.
Today, many personal items belonging to George Leek and his descendants can be seen on exhibit in the Fredericton Region Museum.
Of particular interest is a beautiful Log Cabin quilt, believed to have been made by George Rexford Leek’s grand daughter, Anna M. Leek (1867-1938). Anna was an accomplished musician and dressmaker who later operated her own dress shop in Boston. Also on exhibit are the study notes of her sister Francis Virtue Leek (1852 – 1928), who trained in Boston to become a hospital nurse.
Daniel Leek and Mary Louise McCarthy are proud descendants of George and Jane Leek.
Interview with Daniel Leek (closed captions available in English) – View this video with an English transcript.