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African Canadian Heritage Trail

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  • #46
    Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

    Thank you SistahD. There is indeed a wealth of information. One could spend a lifetime exploring and barely tap into it.


    • #47
      Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

      Here I have started the list of the 31 sites to which I referred earlier:

      1 The Crossing
      Niagara River by historic Fort Erie
      The majority of black slaves who came to Canada from the United States finally
      reached free soil after crossing the Niagara River, which stretches from Fort Erie
      to Niagara-on-the-Lake.This Niagara Freedom Trail Plaque describes the ferry
      system that escaping slaves used to cross into Canada. A plaque illustrates a
      ferry, circa 1895, which aided many Blacks in their escape to freedom near here.

      2 Bertie Hall, Fort Erie
      Constructed in 1830 by William Forsythe Sr., the house was said to contain
      a secret underground tunnel in the basement, leading to the riverbank.

      3 Little Africa Miller’s Bay Marina on the Niagara Parkway

      4 R.Nathaniel Dett British Methodist Episcopal Church
      & Norval Johnson Heritage Library, Niagara Falls (

      5 Colored Corps, Queenston

      6 Negro Burial Ground, Niagara-on-the-Lake
      Marked by a provincial historic plaque, this is the site of a former Baptist Church
      erected in 1830 through the efforts of John Oakley, a former British soldier who,
      although white, became pastor of a predominantly black congregation.

      7 St. Catharines Museum at the Welland Canals Centre, St. Catharines

      The St. Catharines Museum’s award-winning exhibit, Follow the North Star,
      explores the black experience along the Underground Railroad and recounts
      the rich legacy of Niagara’s African Canadians.

      8 Anthony Burns Grave Site & Victoria Lawn Cemetery, St. Catharines

      This provincial historic plaque honours the memory and gravesite of Reverend
      Anthony Burns, the last person tried under the Fugitive Slave Act in Massachusetts.
      A verdict, which returned him to slavery, incited street riots. Boston abolitionists
      bought his freedom and educated him before he settled in St. Catharines.

      9 Richard Pierpoint, St. Catharines

      A freedom seeker, Richard Pierpoint received a land grant in St. Catharines
      in recognition of his military service to the Crown during the American
      Revolutionary War, when he served with Butler’s Rangers. Disbanded at
      Niagara, "Captain Dick" settled near here and joined the Colored Corps
      at the outbreak of the War of 1812.

      10 Harriet Tubman, St. Catharines

      Harriet Tubman, renowned Underground Railroad conductor, became known as
      the "Moses" of her people. Born into slavery in Maryland, she escaped in 1849
      and spent the next decade returning to the south to lead hundreds of freedom
      seekers north. For eight years she lived in St. Catharines, and at one point rented
      a house in this neighbourhood.

      11 St. Catharines British Methodist Episcopal Church, St. Catharines

      12 The Griffin House Hamilton Conservation Authority, Ancaster

      Enerals Griffin was an African American born in Virginia who,with his wife Priscilla,
      settled in the Ancaster area in 1834. For over 150 years their descendants lived and
      worked this beautiful valley farmland.

      13Oakville Museum at Erchless Estate, Oakville

      The 4 acre Erchless Estate overlooks Oakville's scenic 16 Mile Creek Harbour.
      Ships from Oakville sailed throughout the Great Lakes and beyond, and many ships’ captains assisted
      stowaway escaped slaves in grain vessels; particularly remembered is Captain Robert
      Wilson. James Wesley Hill, known as Canada Jim,was a conductor who settled
      here and led an estimated 750 refugees to freedom.

      14 Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Toronto

      The ROM is pleased to contribute to the inspiring story of the Underground
      Railroad through a temporary exhibit. The Underground Railroad: Next Stop, Freedom!

      15 Black Settlement in Oro Township, End of Wilberforce St, CR 20, between Barrie & Shanty Bay 2

      The only government-sponsored black settlement in Upper Canada, this
      community was established in 1819 to help secure the defense of the
      province’s northern frontier. Poor soil and harsh climate gradually discouraged
      farmers, and today the African Episcopal Church, erected near Edgar in 1849,
      remains as a testament to this early black community.

      16 Sheffield’s Black Cultural Museum, Collingwood

      This unique museum truly portrays slavery’s reality and inhumanity to
      man in its many artifacts and displays. It also portrays their accomplishments
      and military and marine history. In the mid 1800s a group of
      escaped slaves left smaller communities such as Priceville to find work
      in larger centers. Some of these families settled near Collingwood where
      they found work with the ships that plied the Great Lakes. A huge granite
      boulder in Sheffield Park lists 56 family surnames of black pioneers who
      came to this area between 1850 and 1900, including Sheffield, the family
      that began the collection.

      17 The Grey County Museum, Owen Sound

      Museums provide a living link for the legacies of times past, artifacts of lives
      lived and gone. Escaped slaves, seeking safety to raise their families and live their
      lives unfettered, followed the North Star to the Port of Owen Sound pre 1850s,
      looking for refuge and work.Mayor John Frost sheltered Blacks at his estate,
      Sheldon Place, until they could establish themselves. Work was found at the
      harbour, on surrounding farms, and as stagecoach drivers. One refugee settler,
      John "Daddy" Hall, became the town crier, ringing his bell to make public

      18 Owen Sound British Methodist Episcopal Church, Owen Sound

      Established in 1856 on the Sydenham River, near 8th street and the Mill Dam, this church has served the black community’s spiritual
      needs for 146 years. Its primary outreach was to former slaves who had reached
      Canada via the Underground Railroad, before and during the American Civil
      War. It was designated an Ontario Heritage site, by then Lieutenant Governor Lincoln Alexander.

      19 Grey County Archives, Priceville (519) 369-3245

      Township history books record stories, names and cemetery
      information - documents of tremendous value to Blacks seeking ancestral
      information as they trace their path along the famous Underground Railroad
      to its northernmost terminus, the County of Grey.

      20 Wilberforce Settlement, Lucan

      In 1829 a group of fugitive slaves in Cincinnati decided to seek a more secure
      refuge in Canada. In 1830 they purchased 800 acres of land in this vicinity, with
      the help of Quakers in Oberlin, Ohio.

      21 Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site; Josiah Henson House, Dresden

      Josiah Henson, a fugitive slave, lived out his life on his farm at the settlement where he died in 1883 at the age of 94.
      The site includes many original buildings and artifacts.

      10 to go


      • #48
        Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

        Negro Creek Road is said to have been first settled by Negro pioneers and their descendants. It is in Holland Township, 25 km south of Owen Sound. In 1995-96, controversy surrounded the naming of the road, as the Township wanted to change its name.
        Djanet Sears' exquisite play, A Black Girl in Search of God, dealt with this controversy as one of its plots.


        • #49
          Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

          Tropi, et al....excellent thread. Unfortunately I attended high school here and African History was next to nothing. This thread shows just how much our education system is lacking.

          As for Black Creek Pioneer Village, it's a regular part of the curriculum for all the schools in and around the GTA. However I don't see our black children learning too much in a one day visit.

          Thanks for the info...keep it coming and I'm definitely going to have Boy and Girl Compry read this thread.


          • #50
            Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

            Thanks Cousin Compry. Do the children not attend the multi-media Black History presentation at Black Creek Pioneer Village? It's excellent but it's in the main building, not the village. I hope that the schools aren't skipping that part of the tour.


            • #51
              Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

              Originally posted by SistahD:
              [qb]... Negro Creek Road is said to have been first settled by Negro pioneers and their descendants. It is in Holland Township, 25 km south of Owen Sound. In 1995-96, controversy surrounded the naming of the road, as the Township wanted to change its name....[/qb]
              I lived near that area for awhile... though it was after the fact (of them wanting the name change) I was amused, saddened, yet not surprised that they (the citizens of Holland Landing) would consider the name not fitting (although they cloaked their true intent behind politically correct phrases)- as Holland Landing is now nothing more than a shanty town with a predominantly redneck population... (that was prolly not very pc of me to say )

              Priceville is another town, not too far away from Holland Landing, that was founded by Colonel Price, a black war veteran. Black folks started to settle there, but were never given deeds to the land.

              White folk, on passing through, noticed that the land was well situated, good for farming and had a nice water bed. They wanted it and subsequently ousted the black settlers - saying, "Show me your deeds and you can stay" knowing full well that they (the black settlers) hadn't been issued any. This was all about a hundred years later.

              There was a big cemetery that eventually became the property of a white farmer. He had no regard to the 'sacredness' of the ground and plowed it up going so far as to use the head stones as pavement for his driveway, his stable and his basement.

              When a protest was launched (I am sorry that I can't recall exactly when this was - I've got the notes somewhere, but don't have the time to go digging) the majority of the town's folk (now 99.9% white) showed their true colours and said that they owned the land legally and the black folk who had been there before were just squatters.

              An old black man, came out of nowhere, it would seem, and showed a deed, naming him owner of the property on which the cemetery had been.

              All this occured maybe 15 - 20 years ago?

              Of all the headstones that had once stood in that cemetery (maybe hundreds?) only four have been reconstructed - and other than the name - Priceville - nothing else remains to show the true origins of the town.

              Today, Priceville, like Holland Landing, looks just like a squatters delight. There is no industry, no aim, no direction. And for all intents and purposes, it has no history either.
              Every obstacle is an opportunity in disguise.


              • #52
                Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                This is an excerpt from an article that was published in their local paper last year:

                "This is not the Underground Railroad you were probably thinking of when you saw the title, I'll bet. I've included it under this part of my Reflection because it's about a part of Black history in Ontario that was very "underground" and very much a "railroad" in its more colloquial sense. Underground: in the video, a word that kept on coming up was "secret".

                No one in Priceville talked freely about their Black history; it was discussed mostly in whispers. In the present generation of Priceville residents and their descendants, some people are realizing that they have Black ancestry; others, who've known that all along, are realizing that their parents hoped they would hide it, because they could pass for white.

                Family photographs were burned if they showed obviously Black relatives; records were destroyed, like those tombstones in the old cemetery - not out of conscious racism but out of a wish to make things easier, not to be "sentimental" about knowing who your family were. As one of the few remaining Black residents said, it was all underground. In the States, there were signs and regulations about who could go where and when; in Ontario, people just knew they should keep the unofficial sundown curfew for Blacks, and take particular care when they dared to go to certain places.

                They hardly protested against being railroaded out of town. But it is changing, thank God. As one Black woman said, in words that gave the video its name, "We must speak for the Dead, so that even if they were broken and disrespected, we can pull ourselves together and survive.""
                Every obstacle is an opportunity in disguise.


                • #53
                  Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                  Excellent Nunya... I didn't know about Priceville.

                  the unofficial sundown curfew for Blacks, and take particular care when they dared to go to certain places.
                  In some towns in Southwestern Ontario it was official. Blacks, Asians and Native People had a curfew. They could be arrested if found on the streets. This isn't ancient history. I have friends who are in their mid thirties to mid forties who remember this. I am not sure when these regulations were taken off the books.

                  Here is another recent story. This happened last year. A Black man (with African, Irish, Welsh and Cherokee ancestry) was eating at a restaurant in one of these red neck towns in SW Ontario. The volunteer firefighters were sitting near them just cutting up native people. He asked his girlfriend and their daughter to go to the car. He then approached them and said, "The next time you think of cutting up Native People, perhaps you should first take a look around and make sure there aren't any sitting right behind you" The people turned every shade of purple. He backed out of the restaurant carefully as he was concerned about being jumped. I won't name the town as there are few visible minorities there and I don't want to inadvertently risk identifying people.


                  • #54
                    Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                    Kudos to Tropi and all who contributed to this thread. I speed read through the posts and didn't click the links (I wanted to take in as much as possible in a short period of time.)

                    Honestly, I HAD NO IDEA OF BLACK CANADIAN HISTORY - OK to be honest, no idea of CANADIAN history at all.

                    It is no secret that the US is very insular and most could not pass an 8th grade history exam about any country in the Americas but our own. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img] As with US history, I read without anger or malice toward other races who no more have control over the actions of their ancestors than any of us do.

                    I will share this thread with my cousin Jewel (our family historian) because regrettably the history of our family is incomplete after our great-grandmother Molly left her children in Mississippi and moved somewhere in the Caribbean with my great grandfather Miller Leatherwood because their relationship was not tolerated in Mississippi (She was at best octoroon and he was white). It is unclear as to whether our family history (from Molly) continues in Canada or Europe after that.

                    Questions - who would be considered the Canadian equivalent of MLK and Malcolm X? Is Canadian Black History taught and celebrated differently because of the structure of the country (the US being several states under one government and one language - although divided by the civil war)?

                    How much do the differences in policies regarding the immigration of Caribbean’s and Africans to Canada vs. the US affect this history and the documentation of this history?

                    Good job Tropicana! This is info I can consider without malice, but with hope for an understanding.

                    Go girl.
                    So Groovy that I dig me.


                    • #55
                      Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                      bwoy mi a guh haffee dung load all a dis info an cyaar ee guh a werk weh mi ha more time fe read ee [img]/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]
                      <span style="font-style: italic">make my enemy my footstool</span>


                      • #56
                        Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                        Thanks for saying as I am greatful in the listening the tune of the sound that made once people.


                        • #57
                          Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                          Harriett Tubman
                          Harriet Tubman's Life in Slavery
                          Harriet Ross was born into slavery in 1819 or 1820, in Dorchester County, Maryland. Given the names of her two parents, both held in slavery, she was of purely African ancestry. She was raised under harsh conditions, and subjected to whippings even as a small child. At the age of 12 she was seriously injured by a blow to the head, inflicted by a white overseer for refusing to assist in tying up a man who had attempted escape.

                          At the age of 25, she married John Tubman, a free African American. Five years later, fearing she would be sold South, she made her escape.

                          Her Escape to Freedom in Canada
                          Tubman was given a piece of paper by a white neighbor with two names, and told how to find the first house on her path to freedom. At the first house she was put into a wagon, covered with a sack, and driven to her next destination. Following the route to Pennsylvania, she initially settled in Philadelphia, where she met William Still, the Philadelphia Stationmaster on the Underground Railroad. With the assistance of Still, and other members of the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society, she learned about the workings of the UGRR.

                          In 1851 she began relocating members of her family to St. Catharines, (Ontario) Canada West. North Street in St. Catharines remained her base of operations until 1857. While there she worked at various activities to save to finance her activities as a Conductor on the UGRR, and attended the Salem Chapel BME Church on Geneva Street.

                          Her Role in the Underground Railroad
                          After freeing herself from slavery, Harriet Tubman returned to Maryland to rescue other members of her family. In all she is believed to have conducted approximately 300 persons to freedom in the North. The tales of her exploits reveal her highly spiritual nature, as well as a grim determination to protect her charges and those who aided them. She always expressed confidence that God would aid her efforts, and threatened to shoot any of her charges who thought to turn back.

                          When William Still published The Underground Railroad in 1871, he included a description of Harriet Tubman and her work. The section of Still's book captioned below begins with a letter from Thomas Garret, the Stationmaster of Wilmington, Delaware. Wilmington and Philadelphia were on the major route followed by Tubman, and by hundreds of others who escaped from slavery in Maryland. For this reason, Still was in a position to speak from his own firsthand knowledge of Tubman's work:


                          • #58
                            Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                            Someone asked a question about Black history in Canadian schools, (h)anna(h) has started an excellent thread exploring how Black students are faring in Canadian schools:

                            Educator Calls for Black Schools in Canada


                            • #59
                              Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                              ((Trops)) came across another link to a treasure trove of literature...

                              amazing what you trip over when looking for something else... definitely worth reviewing...
                              in Memory of Marcia “Ackeegirl” Davidson


                              • #60
                                Re: African Canadian Heritage Trail

                                Thank you....SistahD...just this moring I was telling one of my friends about you and giving you HUGE:

                                because of the lengths you go to as the mother of a Black child to ensure that he is familiar with his heritage. In fact, you do more than most BLACK mothers I know. If more mothers would do this, we would have fewere children who are confused and floundering in our community.

                                KUDOS to you. You are an EXCELLENT model for us all.


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