Black History, Alvin McCurdy Collection: Economy and Education - Page Banner

Economy and Education

As the 19th century progressed, the black community in Ontario developed into a modern multi-faceted society of professionals, farmers, and skilled trades people. The community was socially engaged and centred on the home and church. Former slaves acquired land through settlement programs and individual purchases, built homes, and established themselves as an integral part of the Ontario community.

Photo: This Home of John D. Brown on Texas Road was built by Nasa McCurdy, [ca. 1875]
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This Home of John D. Brown on Texas Road was built by Nasa McCurdy.
Helpers were Mr. Samuel Reese & John D. Brown. [ca. 1875]
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-16-6-1
Archives of Ontario, I0026084

The mortgaging and purchase of property was part of the personal and business life of the black community in Ontario in the 19th century.

Plan of a Part of Farm Lot 3 in the Town of Amherstburg, County of Essex, 1911

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Plan of a Part of Farm Lot 3 in the
Town of Amherstburg, County of Essex, 1911
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-3-0-79
Archives of Ontario


Mortgage between John Seggatt and John B. Bertrand
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Mortgage between John Seggatt and
John B. Bertrand
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-3-0-77
Archives of Ontario


Members of the black community moved into the professions, including medicine and law. Fred H. A. Davis, whose father Delos Rogest Davis was one of the first black lawyers in Ontario, was called to the bar in 1900 and practised for many years in the Amherstburg area. Dr. Mary Waring was a physician in the Windsor area in the later 19th century.

Photo: Frederick H. A. Davis' law office, 1914
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Frederick H. A. Davis' law office, 1914
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-16-3-7-41
Archives of Ontario, I0014679

Photo: Dr. Mary Waring, [ca. 1890]
Dr. Mary Waring, [ca. 1890]
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-16-3-3
Archives of Ontario, I002477

Members of the black community were also involved in the skilled trades and the union movement, contributing to the improvement of living conditions and the struggle for equality in the workplace. Alvin D. McCurdy was a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America for many years.

“I am a Building Tradesman” handout from ?, [ca. 1955]
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“I am a Building Tradesman” handout
from Local 494, [ca. 1955]
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-6-0-6
Archives of Ontario, I0024839

Official ballot showing Alvin McCurdy with the most votes for the position of president of Local 494, 1969
Official ballot showing Alvin McCurdy with the most votes for the position of president of Local 494, 1969
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-6-0-6
Archives of Ontario, I0024840

Education played a leading role in the community’s efforts to be a productive part of Upper Canadian and Ontario Society. From the earliest days, leaders of the black community insisted that their children had the same right to an education as any other part of the population. For many years, there were segregated schools in urban and rural areas, the last of which closed in 1966. The Marble Village Coloured School was one of these institutions.

Photo: Children in front of the Marble Village Coloured School, [ca. 1900]
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Children in front of the Marble Village Coloured School, [ca. 1900]
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-16-5-2
Archives of Ontario, I0024783

Black teachers played an important role in the children’s education, training teachers and serving in the sometimes small and poorly equipped schools. John Alexander taught at the Anderdon Township School Section Number 1 for $600 a year in 1914.

Form of Agreement for Engagement of a Public School Teacher, 1914
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Form of Agreement for Engagement of a
Public School Teacher, 1914
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-11-0-6
Archives of Ontario

Ethel Alexander received a number of certificates relating to her teaching responsibilities, including one certifying her qualifications to teach as a missionary.

Certificate of Physical Training Instruction, 1918
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Certificate of Physical Training Instruction, 1918
Grade B Public School Teacher
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-10-0-46
Archives of Ontario

 


Honorary Teacher’s Certificate, 1922
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Honorary Teacher’s Certificate, 1922
British Honduras
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-10-0-46
Archives of Ontario


The records of school attendance maintained by these teachers represent an important source of information about the younger members of the black community in Ontario.

King Street Public School Daily Register,1893
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King Street Public School Daily Register,1893
Town of Amherstburg
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-11-0-9
Archives of Ontario
King Street Public School Daily Register, For the Month of January, 1893
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King Street Public School Daily Register,
For the Month of January, 1893
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-11-0-9
Archives of Ontario


Photo: School group, including Jesse Henderson, Wilfred Simpson, and Florence Kirtty, [between 1920 and 1940]
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School group, including Jesse Henderson, Wilfred Simpson,
and Florence Kirtty, [between 1910 and 1930]
Alvin D. McCurdy fonds
Reference Code: F 2076-16-5-2-28
Archives of Ontario, I0024782