Viola Desmond challenges racial segregation
In 1946, Viola Desmond, an African-Canadian woman, purchased a ticket to a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Although she had requested a more expensive main floor seat, she was sold a ticket to the balcony because the theatre had a policy of racial segregation. Desmond took a main floor seat anyway, and was arrested for failing to pay the amusement tax on it. She was convicted in a questionable legal proceeding. Her case aroused widespread controversy in Nova Scotia, and although the case was lost in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, it helped end racial segregation in the province in 1954.
Each day for 150 days leading up to the opening of the Canadian History Hall, we’re presenting one moment among the many that have shaped our country. Discover more of Canada’s significant historical events in the new Canadian History Hall, opening July 1, 2017.