Abraham Beverley Walker (1851-1909) was Canada's First Canadian-Born Black lawyer (1881). Walker was also the first law student of any colour enrolled at UNB, as well as the first Black New Brunswicker to Publish a Magazine (1903).
Abraham Beverley Walker was born in Belleisle, NB in 1851 and was of Loyalist descent. He appears to have attended school in Kingston, on the Kingston peninsula, the former shiretown of Kings County.
As a young man, Walker worked as a stenographer and secretary for a touring lecturer in various provinces of Canada. Walker attended the National University in Washington, DC, a small institution that became part of George Washington University. He then studied law with a lawyer in Saint John and supported himself as a shorthand reporter. Walker was recognized as an attorney by the Supreme Court of New Brunswick in 1881; a year later he was admitted to the bar as a barrister. Unable to earn a living representing Saint John’s small Black community, he also faced racial discrimination from his white colleagues. Undeterred, Walker was active in the community, including the African Methodist Episcopalian Church, and his many letters were published in local newspapers. His wife operated a shop in Saint John. For a brief period he tried his prospects in Atlanta, Georgia, where he published the pamphlet The Negro Problem, or the Philosophy of Race Development. He returned to study at the Saint John Law School, enrolling as its first student. The school was later absorbed by the University of New Brunswick. It would take almost 70 years before another Black student would enter the UNB Law School.
Between 1893 and 1899 he served as the librarian for the Saint John Law Society. Walker was active in federal politics, and worked for both the Conservative and the Liberal parties. In 1903 he was responsible for another ‘first’: the literary and public affairs magazine Neith, named after the ancient Egyptian goddess of war, the hunt and wisdom. The publication, which was advertised as a Canadian, not a Black journal, folded after five issues. His last crusade was his interest in the African Civilization Movement, which aimed to recruit educated and skilled Blacks from Canada and other developed nations to build a model colony for Blacks in Africa. Abraham Beverly Walker died of tuberculosis in 1909.