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Black Heritage Travel: Canada
"Been There!" = Notes about places I've visited.

 Alberta British Columbia Maritimes Northwest Territories Ontario
Quebec Saskatchewan Additional Resources Travel Home 

Parks Canada - The Underground Railroad in Canada

This online exhibit/brochure commemorates the Underground Railroad through historical interpretation and and exploration of various sites around the country. It hasn't been updated since 2005 so unfortunately, some of the external links no longer work, but page through it using the "next page" link at the bottom of each page and you'll find a wealth of information.

ParkNet, National Park Service Cultural Resource Management (magazine)

In the late 1990's the National Park Service and Parks Canada worked together commemorate sites of historical importance along the Underground Railroad. These articles are available as pdf downloads from the archives of CRM:

Underground Railroad Parks: A shared history by Hilary Russell (2/20/1997)

Commemorating the Underground Railroad in Canada, by Shannon Ricketts ( 5/22/1999)

Alberta

Breton - Breton & District Historical Museum

The Breton & District Historical Museum is the only museum in the province that has a major focus on the Black settlement history of Alberta. Keystone (Breton) was one of four such rural communities in Alberta founded by Black settlers from Oklahoma and neighbouring states during the first part of the 20th century. Exhibits focus on four major themes: Black History, the Lumbering Industry, Community Development, and Agricultural Development. The Museum is located in the former Breton Elementary School, a two-room school built in 1948.

British Columbia

British Columbia Black History Awareness Society

The Society's objectives include creating an awareness of the history of Black pioneers in British Columbia; stimulating interest in the study of the contributions of persons of African ancestry to British Columbia and Canada; and celebrating the historical achievements of Black people in arts, education, government, sports, science, etc. in British Columbia and Canada.

Maritime Provinces: New Brunswick / Nova Scotia / Prince Edward Island

Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia

The Centre was officially opened on September 17, 1983, with the goal to protect and preserve black history and culture in the province. Many events have taken place at the Centre, such as cultural portrayals in the form of music, plays, concerts, as well as educational activities in the form of workshops, lectures and guided tours. Programs of the Black Cultural Centre extend beyond it doors to the broader community of Nova Scotia. The site includes a history, migration map, important dates in the establishment of black communities in the Maritimes, plus events at the Centre.

Remembering Black Loyalists, Black Communities in Nova Scotia - Nova Scotia Museum

Between 1783 and 1785, more than 3000 black persons came to Nova Scotia as a direct result of the American Revolution. This virtual exhibit - which includes teacher resources - explores their history and contributions in this online exhibit.

Birchtown

Birchtown was the home of the Black Loyalists. It is currently being studied by archaeologists, and a museum complex is planned. You can learn more at the Black Loyalists Society.

Black History in Saint John - Tourism Saint John

Provides a brief history of early slavery and Black Loyalists.

Northwest Territories

Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture - Black History of the Yukon

The content for this online exhibit is based on a three panel display produced in 2006 by the Yukon Archives, the Yukon Human Rights Commission and the Yukon Status of Women Council. Text, documents and photos tell the story of the early years of black settlement, building the Alaska Highway, and women's history.

Ontario

Ontario Black History Society

"The OBHS provides a range of African-Canadian educational materials. For those who are able to visit us, the OBHS has many special collections (e.g. Mary Ann Shadd; Emancipation Day), a resource centre and a selection of Afrocentric materials. For others, the OBHS may be visited at this site, which contains a tremendous sampling of the many resources we have to offer. Materials can also be sent to you or you may book a speaker or exhibit." Included in their online resources is a lisiting of links to historic places and churches.

Black History in Ontario - The End of Slavery Archives of Ontario Online Exhibit

"In the aftermath of the American Revolution black people came to Ontario as the slaves of loyalists and as members of loyalist regiments. Over the following decades slavery was gradually abolished. Black people became settlers and served in the militia during the War of 1812 and the 1837 Rebellion.

"Members of the community were active in the efforts to abolish slavery in the United States and provided a haven for those who sought to escape that institution by moving to Canada. As the 19th century proceeded, members of the black community moved into the middle class and the professions and saw a marked improvement in their economic situation. At the same time the community faced segregation in schooling and racial prejudice in the broader community.

"This exhibit touches on some of the key issues that arose for the black community in Ontario over the past 220 years "

Black History in Guelph and Wellington County - Guelph Museums (Online Exhibit Only)

This exhibition follows that history from the establishment of two settlements in Wellington County - Pierpoint and Queen's Bush - to the starting of a Black community in Guelph geographically centred on the British Methodist Episcopal Church.

Dresden, Ontario- Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site

Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site commemorates the life of Reverend Josiah Henson and his contributions to the famous Underground Railroad. It was Henson's life experiences that inspired Ms. Stowe's creation of the character Uncle Tom in her 1852 outcry against slavery. The museum ­ built on the site of the Black settlement that Rev. Josiah Henson helped found in 1841 ­ preserves the settlement where Henson and his wife Nancy lived. At the Interpretive Centre, visitors are ushered into The North Star Theatre for a screening of the 30-minute video "Father Henson: His Spirit Lives On." The Underground Railroad Freedom Gallery recounts the history of freedom seekers ­ from being taken from Africa and enslaved in the United States to finding freedom in Canada.

Been There! North Buxton - The Buxton National Historic Site & Museum,

We visited this site while traveling from Detroit to Toronto. We had picked up sandwiches at a Tim Horton's along 401, and thought it would make a nice lunch stop. We expected to spend 30 minutes...we stayed nearly 3 hours!

This is the original site of the Elgin Settlement, founded in 1849 by Rev. William King as a haven for fugitive slaves. It eventually grew to become a self-sufficient community of more than 2000 people. The educational system was world renowned...in fact, when it surpassed neighbouring schools, whites started enrolling their children there. (The original "Magnet School!") Though many settlers returned to their homes after the Civil War, some stayed and today Buxton is still inhabited by descendents of the original settlers, an active black Canadian village with people who are dedicated to preserving their African American/Canadian heritage.

For years we have heard about slaves escaping to "Canaan Land" but didn't really know what happened after they reached freedom...they just vanish from American history books. So in addition to soaking up all the historical information in the museum (which has a wonderful introductory video) it was fascinating to visit this little community, to sit in their school building, to walk through their cemetery and look at the names of people on the tombstones. It made the history so real and tangible...especially since our tour guide was a college student and sixth generation descendent.

They have a homecoming event every year over Labour Day Weekend (first Monday in September.) They also have programs for schools, including "Voices for Freedom" desgined to meet expectations included in the Ontario Elementary School Curriculum for Grade 7. You'll find more information, a downloadable brochure, plus a wealth of history, photos, books for sale and other resources at the museum's website.

Collingwood - Sheffield Park Black History and Cultural Museum Unavailable 1/30/09

Preserves and interprets the history of early black pioneers.The Collingwood site was sold in group has acquired a 10-acre property on Clark Street in Clarksburg and are hoping to be up and running by the end of 2009 or in 2010. The artifacts are in storage in Thornbury. The current mailing address is PO Box 265 Collingwood, ON L9Y 3Z5

Windsor - John Freeman Walls Historic Site

"Where the Underground Railroad had it's end." Once an Underground Railroad station, this 20-acre site is run by descendants of slaves who traveled from North Carolina through Detroit to freedom in Canada. Tour guides, called "conductors," bring this journey to life for visitors.

Quebec

Some Missing Pages: The Black Community in the History of Quebec and Canada

"The Quebec Board of Black Educators and the Provincial Association of Social Studies Teachers collaborated with the Ministère in this project. Materials that focus upon Blacks in the history of Québec and Canada help learners to understand more fully the social and cultural realities of the past centuries. The contents have been organized into eight units spanning the periods in Québec and Canadian history from the French Regime to the post-war decades of the twentieth century."

Saskatchewan

Regina - African Association of Saskatchewan

The African Association of Regina Inc. is an umbrella organization for 10 National Associations and other organizations. As of 1/30/08 their website was under development.

 

Additional Resources

Black History Canada

This content rich site explores many aspects of African Canadian history, including enslavement, Black Loyalists, settlement by free blacks and escaped slaves, Caribbean and African immigration, contributions, the arts and more. There is also a timeline and teacher resources. They also provide hundreds of annotated links to related resources at the CBC, government and private educational web resources, plus recommended books.

I've Got a Home in Glory Land: a lost tale of the Underground Railroad. Karolyn Smardz-Frost. Thomas Allen, 2007. Read more and Order at Amazon.com

The compelling life story of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn. They escaped from slavery boldly using forged documents to travel by steamboat to Cincinnati (appropriately arriving on July 4) then settled in Detroit and were subsequently incarcerated under the Fugitive Slave Law. The community (white and black) rose up in their defense, sparking what history records as “The Blackburn Riots of 1833.” After their hair raising escape to Canada and subsequent incarceration while appealing extradition under provisions of the Fugitive Offenders Act, they finally settled in Toronto, where Blackburn established the first cab company. The couple acquired affluence and influence - though they always lived modestly - and assisted many other refugees escaping slavery and intolerance before, during and after the Civil War. The book details many aspects of 19th Century African Canadian life.

Black Heritage Sites: The North. Nancy C. Curtis. New Press 1998 Order at Amazon.com

This volume includes descriptions and detailed visitor information for hundreds of places of national and local significance, from churches and schools to battlefields and cemeteries, from stops on the Underground Railroad to landmarks of the 1950s civil rights movement. Black Heritage Sites is perfect for travelers and historians of all kinds--from the family planning a cross-country trip to the armchair traveler interested in gaining a unique perspective on African American history.

http://creativefolk.com/travel/canada.html