The Archives of Ontario is pleased to introduce this exhibit: a joint project of the Archives of Ontario and the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS). A companion travelling exhibit will circulate to cultural, heritage and educational sites throughout Ontario.
The text has been authored by guest curator Rosemary Sadlier, President of the OBHS. Technical and administrative support have been provided by the Archives of Ontario and OBHS staff and volunteers.
This partnership has allowed us to present the dramatic story of a community which has played a significant role in Ontario's history and remains a vital force in Ontario society today.
Black Canadians were in Canada from the earliest times, initially as free people, then as slaves. With the French fur-traders, they helped found and build many of the early settlements. They had helped to defend British controlled Canada from the Americans and rewarded with land to develop.
However, the largest early migration of people of African origin into Canada was sparked by changes in British law making all enslaved people free, and the overwhelming response which ensued was the Underground Railroad. This exhibit celebrates that migration and explores Black settlement in what is now Ontario.