The Zion Baptist Church is the spiritual home to a community whose roots in Truro extend back to the late nineteenth century. The congregation’s shared historical experiences forged a strong sense of community among its members, and led them in 1896 to seek separation from the Baptist churches they had originally worshipped with in Truro. This church building is a symbol of that sense of community, the events that led to the establishment of the church, and the history of the congregation since.
Zion Baptist is valued for its association with the African-Canadian community that settled in Truro in the nineteenth century. Portia White (1910-1968), the first African-Canadian woman to win international acclaim, was born in Truro to a musical family and sang in the choir of this church where her father was pastor. Her career as a soloist and educator became a source of pride for all Canadians. A long-time member of this congregation, Stanley (Chook) Maxwell (1935-2001), was one of the first black men to play professional hockey, serving on a number of Canadian and American hockey teams in the 1950s and 1960s. Maxwell was also locally prominent in baseball, and was elected into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame.
The Zion Baptist Church is one of two examples of ecclesiastical Queen Anne Revival architecture in Truro. Both are similar in form but this example is simpler in terms of massing, materials and surface details. The design was by James Charles Dumaresq of Halifax and Saint John, a prominent and prolific architect, and construction was by local carpenter Evan MacDonald.