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African Canadian Heritage Trail

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  • African Canadian Heritage Trail

    While performing my hockey Mom duties this weekend, I had an opportunity to visit a few important sites along the African Canadian Heritage Trail. In fact, I pulled my son out of school a day early so that we could explore this area and LEARN!!

    I will come back and post about what I saw at the Buxton Settlement, Uncle Tom's Cabin and the African Canadian display in Chatam's WISH centre.

    From some of the comments posted on the board and some of the reactions to threads about racial issues, it appears that people don't have a clue about the history of African Canadian, Native and Asian people in this country. I realize that if people have migrated to an area, they may not have had the opportunity to study Canadian history. Also, there was a time when this material wasn't covered in Canadian history classes. Now it is BARELY covered.

    Now I am curious about something. How many Boardites based in Canada have taken the time to visit any of these areas and learn about the history of people of African descent in Canada? How many have taken the time to familiarize their children with African Canadian history? How many have taken their children to visit these areas in Sout Western Ontario? If you have done any of this, why not? Just curious.

    With Black history month just around the corner (it starts tomorrow) perhaps this would be a good time to make a few stops along the African Canadian Heritage Trail.

    These links will point you in the right direction:

  • #2
    Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

    Now some may wonder, "what does al of this have to do with today?"

    Well I'll tell you. From the inception os the Black settlementsin South Western Ontario, they face opposition from the local community. In fact, itwas not until the 1950s and 60s that legislation was enacted to ensure fair and equitable practices in housing and public facilities. In these areas, there were stoers in which Black people were not served.

    Fast forward to 2003, someone carved the N word on a Black person's car in one of those towns in south western Ontario. I won't say which one. A Black member of the community wrote a letter about it and it was published in a local newspaper. A few days, later, 2 members of the KKK showed up on his doorstep and gave him a warning. One was local the other was from the US.

    So what am I trying to say? It's quite simple. If you and your family moved to Canada relatively recently (1970s, 1980s onward) and you personally have not had any problems, please do not dismiss it when others speak about the LONG legacy of racism in Canada. Take the time to learn about the history of the country that you have made your adopted home. Take the time to learn about the racial incidents that people of African and Asian descent and that our Native People are stilll experiencing today.


    • #3
      Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

      About the Buxton Settlement

      Celebrating the Underground Railroad and Early Black Settlement In Canada
      "Probably nowhere in Canada is there such a concentration of above-ground resources attesting to early African Canadian history: certainly nowhere else is there so rich a collection of artifacts relating to the history of the Underground Railroad. That so much has survived is testament to the care taken by descendants of the original settlers and their recognition of the importance of the Elgin Settlement as the most completely realized of the several attempts at planned, utopian communities of UGRR refugees."
      Rev. William King (1812 -1895)

      In 1849, he brought 15 U.S. slaves to Canada where they received their freedom. With the strength of his convictions, unmitigating determination and political connections, he established the Elgin Settlement. Reverend King's methodical structuring of the community enabled former slaves to become self-sufficient land owners and successful business people.
      This next part was originally published in Ebony:

      February,1972 issue, Ebony Vol.XXVII No. 4
      FOUR years before the Civil War broke out in the United States, 300 blacks - most of them former slaves from Southern plantations strode quietly and proudly, along the streets of the Canadian city of Chatham to vote in the Court House. They had journeyed ten miles from Buxton an area settled six years previously by 15 freed slaves of Louisiana educator William King.

      Religious heritages of two cultures merge in Junior choir composed of North Buxton's two churches, The British Methodist Episcopal and the First Baptist. After the Civil War Thomas W. Stringer a Buxton man established 35 AME churches in Mississipi.

      When the voting ended that day, the incumbent, Provincial Parliament member from the area, who had won his seat two years previously on an anti-Negro immigration platform had been defeated in the first demonstration of political black power on the North American continent.


      • #4
        Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

        Please continue Trops, very interesting
        I am too Blessed to be stressed


        • #5
          Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

          This page is a good place to begin to explore the history of the Buxton settelement. It is loaded with information:

          I want to highlight this:

          Edwin Larwill

          Edwin Larwill was a white, English born Tory who came to Chatham in 1841. He was a member of the Raleigh Township Council, West District Council, legislature and school commissioner for the district. He also was the editor of the Chatham Journal. Larwill, however, was strongly against the black settlement of Elgin. He felt that a black settlement so near Chatham would bring down property values and the "good" settlers (whites) would leave. Larwill considered blacks inferior. He arranged for a public debate on the issue of the black settlement on August 18, 1849 at the Royal Exchange Hotel in Chatham. The sheriff of Kent warned William King that Larwill had a vigilante group.

          On the day of the debate between Larwill and King, 300 people came to watch. This included a group of blacks as well as whites. The debate took place on the balcony of the Hotel so the public could watch. The only white person to face the crowd with King was Archibald McKellar. When King spoke he was booed and hissed at for his position. Yet he was not intimidated and continued. King's arguments received little support, Larwill's fears prevailed. William King then went to Chatham's Presbyterian Church to answer any questions. There were no arguments nor violence. Later he was escorted safely back to the hotel. Larwill continued his opposition to blacks. He persuaded the West District Council to send protest to Parliament. Then he added recommendations of his own without Council's knowledge.

          His recommendations would have:

          barred blacks from public schools
          barred blacks from public office
          forced blacks to pay poll tax
          forced blacks who were allowed to vote to be re-examined
          forced blacks to post bonds if they wished to stay in Canada
          Reaction Reaction - Council felt that Larwill was far too extreme. Therefore he hurt his cause because of taking his own action.
          King moved to the Elgin Settlement November 28, 1849 with his former slaves. The settlement flourished because it was well organized. Under King's leadership the land was cleared, education maintained an importance, hard work and pride were established and a mail service was started as a link to the rest of the world. On September 24, 1856 a celebration was held on the lawn of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. There Chatham whites saw the success of the settlement. Also celebrated was the defeat of Larwill by Archibald McKellar in the Kent Election of 1856. Most blacks had come in to Chatham from Elgin to vote against Larwill. This defeat ended his political career. Rev. King, "From that time (of Larwill's defeat) forward all opposition to me and the coloured people ceased." By 1864 the settlement received a good report indicating: good conduct, a hard working community, good moral standards and political awareness and participation.


          • #6
            Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

            Okay let's shift our focus to Chatam. Unfortunately, most of the Black historical sites in Chatam have been demolished [img]/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img] but one of the citizens has created detailed and small replicas of the buildings. You can see them at the WISH Centre in Chatam:

            By the 1850's Chatham was a bustling commercial center. The total population was 1/3 black by the end of the decade. Many of these blacks had come from all over the American South to settle in Chatham. At this time there were 80 Canadian born blacks in Chatham. Most of the refugees lived beyond Prince St. on King St. E. The street was lined with log cabins and small houses with garden plots. At Chatham's largest market, a great number of the vegetable wagons belonged to the blacks. The prosperous black families would have owned two story homes equal to those of white citizens. The New York Herald proclaimed that begging did not exist in Chatham - only 2 or 3 refugees received municipal funds. This decade was probably the height of the black population in Chatham, mainly because The Fugitive Slave Law had been passed in the United States and many blacks had escaped to Chatham to avoid being caught by slave catchers.


            • #7
              Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

              Freedom's home
              More than any other place, three Ontario towns ended slavery in America
              By MIKE CONNELL
              Times Herald

              CHATHAM-KENT, Ontario -- The glint and sparkle are gone from week-old snow, and a drab February sky does little to recommend Chatham-Kent to a visitor.

              Wedged between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, this is a landscape of tidy farms and handsome towns, though winter has idled the former and dulled the latter.

              Chatham-Kent takes its name from an amalgamation of Chatham, a city of 44,000 people, and Kent, a county of 108,000. The population is not quite 95% white, and the community, to all appearances, isn't much different from a thousand other places in North America.

              Yet it is different.

              The difference is history.

              This is where:

              Harriett Beecher Stowe found the inspiration for Uncle Tom's Cabin, the 1852 novel that changed Northern attitudes about slavery and galvanized the abolition movement.

              John Brown planned his bloody 1859 raid on the federal armory at Harper's Ferry,
              a doomed expedition that presaged the start of the Civil War two years later.

              Scores of fugitive slaves disembarked from the Underground Railroad and began new lives amid the fertile soil and free air of southern Ontario.
              Chatham-Kent is the place, as much as any place, where a continent's slaves shook off the yoke and claimed their freedom.

              Preserving rich history

              "I have a passion," Gwen Robinson said. "I think our history has to be told."

              Her passion began years ago, when her son came home from school in Chatham with an assignment to write about the history of the local black community. He asked his mother for help in finding sources, and they quickly discovered the community's rich oral history had never been
              organized and written in a systematic fashion.

              Gwen Robinson, 71, stands beside the plaque commemorating John Brown's 1858 convention in central Chatham, Ontario. Robinson, a relative of Shadd's, leads the efforts in Chatham to research the history of the thriving black community that arose in southern Ontario in the 19th century.

              Now 71, Robinson has devoted herself to recording that history. She has written a book, Seek the Truth, and she continues her research at the Heritage Room, a combination museum-archives, in a community center on Chatham's east side.

              "We've really come into being in the last 20 years," she said.


              • #8
                Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                My son played hockey in Dresden over the weekend. BTW, his team won the tournament. Around the corner from the arena and down the road about 1 KM was Josiah Henson's home.

                It isn't open during the winter but the gate is left open so I took my son over there between games and we were able to peek in the window of his home and the church. The saw mill is there. The Black and White Citizens of Dresden have cooperated to preservation of this important historical site. The Rotary club has played a big role.

                Uncle Tom's Cabin, a novel by Harriett Beecher Stowe, which Abraham Lincoln said led to the Civil War.

                Josiah Henson, seated at far left, established the Dawn Settlement at Dresden after escaping from slavery.

                Josiah Henson, The Original "Uncle Tom"
                Tony Leather

                There are people of humble origins who make a devastating impact on world opinion, but their deeds are often forgotten, in the main, even when they caused controversy, in their day.

                One such person was called "The most controversial former slave ever to make his way to freedom," and he appeared first in England one hundred and fifty years ago. The event was called the "Great Exhibition," and it was held in Hyde Park, London. Over six million people attended to view exhibits and goods from nations around the world. It was largest event of its kind ever held in the world, up to then.

                This wasn't where the story of Josiah Henson really began, but it was the beginning of it's finally coming to light.

                On March 5, 1877, Josiah Henson, a man whom Queen Victoria had known of and had wanted to meet in person for many years, after accepting her invitation to an audience, finally signed the visitor's book at Windsor Castle. Yet the Queen did not immediately recall her FIRST meeting with this unique character.

                He had been the only black exhibitor, one of the Canadian representatives, when The Great Exhibition had opened twenty-six years earlier on May 1, 1851.

                Queen Victoria had always been special to those, like Henson, who had been slaves, partly due to her response to the U.S. fugitive slave laws of 1850, which had been: "As slavery cannot exist on British soil, no runaway who reachs Canada would ever be returned south."

                It was perhaps the combination of his being black, and his experiences as a slave that attracted attention to him, especially as the English press of the time tended to categorize America as an uncouth and uncivilized nation of slave traders. That a man could escape and do well enough to help shape the destiny of others made him something of a celebrity.

                During the run of the exhibition, through contacts within the church, Henson was asked to speak at many venues about the plight of his fellows still suffering enslavement in the southern United States. He met the then Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, and, when asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury which university he had attended, he answered, quite simply, "The University of adversity."

                "Where is that?" came the archbishop's reply

                "It was my lot to be born a slave. I never entered school, or read the Bible in my youth, and I received all my training under the most adverse circumstances" Henson said. He returned to Canada at the end of 1851, having been awarded a bronze medal for the quality of his craftsmanship.

                When Harriet Beecher-Stowe published "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in 1852, the book met with tremendous acclaim around the world. Within a few months, there were five different stage versions playing in London, but it was condemned by U.S. authorities who felt obliged to challenge its authenticity. To prove the solidity of her background information, the authoress released details of her sources.

                One in particular was this same Josiah Henson, whom she met in Boston, and on whose own harrowing tale of slavery - his "The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself", published in 1849 - much of her own book was to be based. Henson is reputed to have said "Mrs Stowe's book is not an exaggerated account of the evils of slavery. The truth has never been half told; the story would be too horrible to hear."

                His own story is a tribute to his heroic determination to find freedom, his skill, and his later success. He was born on June 15th, 1789, in Charles County, Maryland, growing up in a culture of mindless violence to his own kind, yet refusing to be downtrodden.

                He once watched his own father having his ear cut off, after having received a hundred lashes, before being sold off to a plantation owner. Then his father was "sold south" - a terrifying fate to all slaves - and Josiah never saw him again. His crime? Preventing the rape of his wife by a white overseer. For a black man to even touch a white man was unheard of - to assault one could easily have led to execution.

                Henson himself had been bought and sold three times before his 18th birthday, having been ripped from the arms of his mother at only six. Their owner, a Doctor, had passed away, and as "property" of the estate, the family was sold off, one by one, to different buyers.

                It is impossible, without reading Henson's autobiography, or Beecher-Stowe's novel, to fully appreciate just how miserable the life of a slave really was. These were people without rights, treated as animals because that's how their owners saw them - livestock for breeding, buying and selling - yet Henson rose above the utter hopelessness of his existence, a shining example to others in his position.

                His strength came partly from the faith in God he had acquired from Methodist preachers, at a time when religion and literacy were denied to slaves, and also to his belief in the right of a black man to live on equal terms with white men. Having once already been cheated of the right to buy his freedom for $350 - which he'd worked hard to save - he discovered that his owner, Amos Riley, had secret plans to sell him on.

                This would mean separation, yet again, from his family, an ordeal that Josiah was determined never to repeat, so he made plans to escape. Later, in 1830, he took his whole family on a dangerous trek northwards, evaded capture, and finally crossed the frontier into Canada at Buffalo.

                As a "free EDIT," Henson wrote that he celebrated "with a frenzy of joy on reaching Canada," though he did, later, return to the U.S. to lead another group of fugitives to safety. The Hensons settled in Ontario, where he became a farm laborer for three years, learning to read and write before becoming a lay preacher - and Father Henson.

                He believed that it must be possible to create a self-sustaining colony, and, as leader of his fugitive slave group, he set one up at Dawn, Ontario soon after. It was an industrial project, with a sawmill and a technical school, but it struggled financially due to both limited capital and markets for their work.

                This was why, at sixty years of age, Henson took it upon himself to go and exhibit at the Great Exibition, of which he wrote - "Perhaps my complexion attracted attention, but nearly all who passed paused to look at me and at themselves as reflected in my large black walnut mirrors."

                This was where Queen Victoria had first met him, pausing to admire his work and speaking to him, briefly. Her interest in the abolition of slavery, and in the endless reports of Henson's campaigning speeches across Canada and the U.S.A, were finally rewarded in 1865 when Amendment XIII of the American Constitution abolished slavery forever.

                This is the unsung heroism of Josiah Henson, selflessly devoting his "free" life to the freedom of his peers, and refusing to go quietly into retirement. In 1879, at age eighty, he said of "Uncle Tom's Cabin", "From 1852 to the present, I have been called Uncle Tom, and I feel proud of the title. If my humble words in any way inspired that gifted lady to write such a plaintive story, I have not lived in vain; for I believe that her book was the beginning of the glorious end."

                Father Henson was eighty-seven when he decided to embark on a last fundraising tour. It was over forty years after his escape from the inhumanity of slavery. English friends and supporters, too many to count, told audiences nationwide of his "sense of liberty, love of freedom, manliness of feeling and independence of mind, joined to a degree of firmness, perseverance and determination not exceeded by either Cromwell or Wellington."

                His audiences were always big and enthusiastic, and it was no surprise that the Queen was so eager to meet him. This meeting was immortalized in a water-colour painting by Francis Walker, and a portrait bust of Henson by W. Charles May, today exhibited in the American Museum in Bath.

                It was late in life that this indefatigable freedom fighter finally received the accolades he had so richly earned, having lived to fulfill the destiny he had so often dreamed of as a young man - but he was defiant, right to the end. He said, "People have forgotten that Mrs. Stowe's book is a novel. My name is not Tom and never was. I do not want to have any other name inserted in the newspapers for me than my own. Josiah Henson. Always was, always will be."

                Josiah Henson passed away in 1883, at the age of ninety-four, having lived an early life that few of those alive today would wish to emulate. He suffered terrible emotional and physical abuse as a child and a young man, but managed, nonetheless, to rise above it all and set an example to us all, playing a truly major part in the abolition of slavery.

                Humble beginnings, to be sure, leading to a lifelong fight for justice, the like of which is so rarely seen in the pages of history, and for which we owe him a debt of gratitude. This was, without doubt, a man whose unshakeable belief in justice helped to alter the course of history. Josiah Henson - Uncle Tom - the freedom fighter who wouldn't be beaten. 150 years on, he deserves to be remembered.


                • #9
                  Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                  You know, when I made the post, it crossed my mind that there was a posibility of this kinda reation (which is good) and that a likely source of this reaction would be yourself.. (once agian thats positive).

                  This is respect for yourself, because I do not know you and will not asume what you do with your family to make them more aware of their African Canadian heritage.
                  My comments are from my short experience.. Totally subjective.
                  An issued I'd have with this kinda information is.. How the heck is it that most black history has to come out like this.. You know a reactionary approach to some post on a bulleting board.
                  Why is it not in the Canadian media??? Daily???
                  I see CTV shouwing short clips of GREAT MEN who discover the salmon trade in Newfoundland! and all that crap, time and money spent to glorify small achievements by non black, but here in Canada you have to dig to find anything that shows blacks as instrumental in the development of this nation.

                  I know Martin Luther King is American, but his national holiday came and went here and the Canadian media BARELY batted an eyelid. But we get all about Micheal Jackson court case, and they dont hesitate to show u Jah Rule in handcuffs while he was in TO for a court case.
                  Why is it that we have to dig into the legistional factorization of the British espiscodical movement in 1806 settled in Sothern ontario doing something another.. Most lay person dont go into this kinda stuff (yeah our fault).. But most jews just have to see a swastika, shout and point, and they have everyone to the rescue??! Why do we have to take the hits, and when we talk about it .. to our own, our own hits us also???

                  I'm not into the seperatist intellectual virtual battles.. Mi too fool fool fi dat..I just say my piece.

                  Keep putting out the information, any which way u know how, but 1. dont assume u know anything about myself, and 2. try keeping it constructive..

                  Queestion.. is any of the stuff u showing here taught in the public school system? If not.. Why?
                  I mean I see my kids come home studying bout some french dude who killed a few indians so to help build this nation, I on the other hand go about teaching them about there Jamaican heritage.. because thats all I know..
                  Canadian black history, to me, is still in the undergrounds.. We can fact the problem, unite and try to fix it, or we can bury our heads in the sand..
                  <span style="font-style: italic">&quot;only true geniuses and/or dillusional ediots create their own quotes&quot;
                  &quot; a Nation gets the Leadership it deserves..&quot;</span>
                  -xKs (Dec 29,2011)


                  • #10
                    Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                    As far as I know, a lot of this information is barely touched on in the public school system.

                    First of all my post is not in reaction to anything recently posted on the board other than my frustration at times when comments from some Canadian based boardites seem to reflect a lack of understanding of the history and current struggles of African and Asian descent in Canada and the Native People of Canada.

                    I will quote a man with whom I had a LONG conversation over the weekend. He is descended from some of the people who settled in Buxton:

                    "Canada is NOT and never has been a hospitable environment for people who are not White".

                    I know that when I was growing up in Montreal, I learned NOTHING about this. The only mention of Black people were:

                    - grade 3 geography - Bunga the Negrita oby in the jungle (think of how humiliating it was for me as the only Black girl in the class to sit through THIS unit)

                    - grade 7 - French - The Little Black Sambo who wore a loin cloth, ate pancakes and ran around a tree to turn a tiger into butter for his pancakes

                    - grade 7 - guess they were feeling generous that year - Reader - there was a story that was set in Jamaica. All I can recall is that all of the Black people had hands with Black palms. There was a feast of some sort and people had a picnic around a huge table. A roasted pig with an apple in it's mouth was in the middle of the table.
                    - grade 9 - I think it was history - there was one paragraph about slavery and it focused on slavery in the US - not Canada - the only question my teacher saw fit to ask was "What argument ws used to justify slavery"

                    That's it... I have just given you a mind dump of everything I learned about Black history in the public school system.

                    Now I know that in the 70s and 80s some schools had Black history as an extracurricular activity. Usually this was not offered by the school as part of the curriculum but local Black organizations provided this as a service.

                    My son doesn't go to public school so I don't have first hand knowledge of what's covered now in public schools. The schools which he has attended have all had some multi-cultural content in the curriculum. My son tells me that this isn't studied separately but discussed in relation to specific units.

                    Clearly, there is a HUGE gap. What disturbs me is nt so much what people are or aren't taught in the curriculm (although this is a major concern). Of more concern is why aren't we taking more of an initiative to familiarize ourselves with this material? In the internet age, there is no excuse to remain in ignorance and there is not excuse for having our children raised in ignorance.


                    • #11
                      Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                      Originally posted by Tropicana:
                      [qb] As far as I know, a lot of this information is barely touched on in the public school system...more in a sec. [/qb]
                      That honest response is appreciated.
                      See from my experience here (short as it may be).. this is what I've learnt..
                      White people built Canada /blacks shoot up Scarborough. East Indians over populating Brampton, blacks rob the ATMs. Chineese community becomeing powerfull in Mississauga, blacks, well they are there.
                      Thats my simplistic, scarcastic take on the way the mainstream media protray this little neck of the woods.
                      <span style="font-style: italic">&quot;only true geniuses and/or dillusional ediots create their own quotes&quot;
                      &quot; a Nation gets the Leadership it deserves..&quot;</span>
                      -xKs (Dec 29,2011)


                      • #12
                        Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail


                        TEACH!!! TEACH TROPICANA, TEACH!!!
                        Cry later, but for now, let's enjoy the laughter.

                        Truth is like the sun. No human being can ever look it straight in the face without blinking or being dazed.


                        • #13
                          Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                          My pleasure. I didn't start to learn any of this until I was about 18. I realized my total ignorance and strated to read about Black history and culture. I am still WAY behind the eight ball. I am learning as I go and sharing what I learn. I am and always will be a student of Jamaican and Black history:

                          Though not officially recorded, it is believed that approximately 40,000 freedom seekers made their way to Canada through the Underground Railroad

                          The search for freedom brought them to Upper Canada (Ontario). It was here that a substantial Black population of free citizens established themselves. When peace and civil rights returned to the United States, many of the former slaves returned south to reconnect with family and friends.

                          But, many remained and formed several Black communities in Southwestern Ontario. In the early 1800s, five black families settled along McGregor’s Creek in the tiny town of Chatham Ontario. The village soon became a haven for runaway slaves and by 1850, its population was 75 per cent black.

                          At one time Black residents promoted Chatham, calling it a Mecca, with plenty of businesses and employment opportunities.

                          The town of Chatham became a major centre of African-American society in early and mid 19th century Canada. It strongly influenced the abolitionist movement in the U.S. and provided a model of free African-American society that was studied by reconstruction leaders.

                          One historical figure, based in Chatham, was John Brown. John Brown recruited participants for his Harper’s Ferry Raid at the John Brown Convention in 1858. Brown headed the raid to take over the U.S. Military Arsenal and lead a slave rebellion. One member of the Chatham community was executed along with Brown.

                          Chatham was also the home of two important abolitionist leaders, Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Martin Delaney. Martin Delaney eventually left Chatham to recruit African-American soldiers to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln later commissioned him a captain in the Union Army for his work.

                          Mary Ann Shadd

                          Mary Ann Shadd was the first female publisher in North America. Her newspaper, Voice of the Fugitive, provided information to freedom seekers about what their future would be like in Canada and news related to the abolition movement.

                          Mrs. Cary was not only an abolitionist but also a suffragette. She moved to the U.S. after the Civil War to participate in the women’s movement. In order to further the cause of freedom, this brave and remarkable woman became a lawyer when she was in her 60’s. In 1997 she was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Delaware Women.

                          "Probably nowhere in Canada is there such a concentration of above-ground resources attesting to early African-Canadian history; certainly nowhere else is there so rich a collection of artifacts relating to the history of the Underground Railroad,” stated Shannon Ricketts of the Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, when referring to the preservation of history in the Chatham area.

                          “That so much has survived is testament to the care taken by descendants of the original settlers and their recognition of the importance of the Elgin Settlement as the most completely realized of the several attempts at planned, utopian communities of UGRR refugees."

                          The Elgin settlement, also known as Buxton, was the last of four organized black settlements to come into existence in Canada. The black population of Canada West and Chatham was already high because of the area's proximity to the U.S. The Elgin Association through the Presbyterian Church for the purpose of creating a settlement purchased the land. The land was approximately19 kilometres south of Chatham.

                          Martin Delaney

                          The settlement was made of 9,000 acres of land, 8 kilometres in length, 4 in width situated between the Great Western Railway and Lake Erie. The land was divided into farms of 50 acres each.

                          For many, the Elgin Settlement was the last stop on the Underground Railroad. The settlement developed under the supervision of William King and became a self-contained settlement for over 2,000 people. It became a thriving community through successful businesses, factories and the establishment of a school.

                          The Underground Railway is strongly linked to the history of Black’s in Canada. During this time, Canada took part in the movement to abolish slavery. In welcoming those who were confined and oppressed by slavery, Canada conveyed an early commitment to humanitarianism.

                          Both before and after the American Civil War, African-Canadians contributed significantly to the development of Ontario. And it is a history that the people of these towns and settlements have proudly maintained.

                          “As a people, with roots dating back to 1603, African-Canadians have defended, cleared, built and farmed this country; our presence is well established, but not well-known. The celebration of Black History Month is an attempt to have the achievements of Black people recognized and told,” said Rosemary Sadlier, of the Ontario Black History Society, when describing why we need Black History Month.

                          “The greater Canadian community needs to know a history of Canada that includes all of the founding and pioneering experiences in order to work from reality, rather than perception alone.”

                          Photos in a second.


                          • #14
                            Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                            Speaking of ignorance. Until this weekend, I had never even HEARD of this gentleman. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img] He was one of 5 Black doctors in Chatam in the 1800s:

                            Martin Delaney

                            "His was a magnificent life, and yet, how many of us have heard of him?"
                            --W.E.B. DuBois, The Pittsburgh Courier, July 25, 1936.
                            "Do not fail to meet this most extraordinary and intelligent black man."
                            --President Abraham Lincoln to
                            Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, February 8, 1865
                            DELANY, MARTIN R.
                            (1812-1885), abolitionist, author, and politician. A nineteenth-century Afro-American leader, Delany was a gadfly of many talents and considerable controversy. He is principally remembered as an early black nationalist and an architect of emigration to Africa, endeavors that have obscured the many other remarkable features of his career.

                            Delany was born free in Charlestown, Virginia (now West Virginia), the son of a slave and a free black woman. He grew up knowing his African ancestry; one of his grandfathers was a Mandingan prince and the other a Golah village chieftain. Delany achieved a solid education in Pittsburgh, where his family had moved in 1831. There he gained his first experience in abolitionism, temperance reform, and the Underground Railroad. In 1843 he married Catherine Richards, the daughter of a member of the Pittsburgh black elite; all their seven children were named for famous blacks.

                            For a short time Delany published a newspaper, the Mystery, and in 1847-1848, he served as coeditor and agent of Frederick Douglass's newspaper, the North Star. His friendship with Douglass became strained over ideology and strategy, prompting Douglass's famous comparison, "I thank God for making me a man, but Delany thanks him for making him a black man." In 1850-1851 Delany attended medical school at Harvard. After white students protested his presence, he was asked to leave, but before this bitter experience he amassed enough knowledge to enable him to practice medicine periodically.

                            Delany's discouragement with the persistence of slavery and racism prompted him to move his family to Chatham, Ontario, in the 1850s and to organize emigrationist conventions in both the United States and Canada. In 1859 he went to West Africa, touring Liberia and the Niger River valley, investigating sites for colonization, and negotiating a treaty for the use by Afro-American settlers of a portion of Yorubaland (modern Nigeria). The depth of Delany's discontent is captured in his two major writings: The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered (1852), a book that recommended emigration for blacks and sketched a nationalist consciousness; and a novel published serially in 1859, Blake, or the Huts of America, the story of a free Afro-Cuban who, after being kidnapped in America, begins to organize an international slave insurrection. Delany was a dedicated activist, but his leadership style was often authoritarian, and his thought was sometimes as rooted in class interests as it was in race. He viewed emigration as a genuinely new start for American blacks, but also as moral regeneration for Africa, to be led by enlightened Afro-Americans.

                            Delany garnered considerable support for his African venture, but when the Civil War broke out he switched his attention to recruiting black troops in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. In 1865 he was commissioned a major in the Union army, the first black field officer in the war. He recruited two regiments of ex-slaves, and at the war's end he stayed in South Carolina, working diligently for the Freedmen's Bureau for three years and then entering state politics. But he became increasingly disenchanted with Radical Reconstruction, especially its political corruption. He then championed southern home rule and eventually became an active supporter of the ex-Confederate, antilabor, white supremacist Wade Hampton, the Democratic candidate for governor of South Carolina. Delany's misadventures in Reconstruction politics found him once again interested in Liberian emigration in the late 1870s. After his death, he remained relatively unknown until young black nationalists in the 1960s, looking for their ideological origins, resurrected the memory of his pre-1861 career.
                            For more information, visit the Martin R. Delany homepage:



                            • #15
                              Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                              Mary Ann Shadd
                              Mary Ann Shadd arrived in Canada at the time of the Underground Railroad to teach the children of arriving refugees and distribute anti-slavery materials. She was a woman of many talents. Mary Ann Shadd earned her law degree at the end of the American Civil War and worked as a lawyer, teacher, lecturer, suffragist and publisher.

                              She was the first woman in Canada to become a publisher, starting the Provincial Freeman in 1853.
                              Actually, she was also the first female publihser in North America.

                              Need to tell our history
                              By MURPHY BROWNE

                              On Sunday, August 11, 2002, I met Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Mary Ann Shadd Cary was the first woman in North America to publish a newspaper. In 1853 she launched The Provincial Freeman. She published this newspaper from King Street near St. Lawrence Hall in Toronto until 1855 when she moved the newspaper to Chatham, Ontario.

                              I first read about Mary Ann Shadd Cary in the 1985 book, The Freedom Seekers, by Dr. Daniel Hill who was at one time president of the Ontario Black History Society.

                              During her lifetime, Mary Ann Shadd Cary who was born in 1823 and died in 1893 achieved much. She was the first African woman to graduate from Howard University’s law school in 1883. She was a wife, mother, teacher, political activist and lawyer in the 70 years that she lived.

                              Mary Ann Shadd Cary has been dead for almost 110 years yet I met and spoke to this woman on Sunday, August 11, 2002.


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