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Daniel Grafton Hill III 1923-2003

Daniel Grafton Hill III was born in Independence, Missouri but raised primarily in Colorado, Oregon and California. He was the son of Daniel Grafton Hill II, an ordained minister with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and of May Edwards Hill, a social worker and home maker.

Photo: Daniel G. Hill and his three sisters from left: Margaret, Doris and Jeanne, [ca. 1937-1939]
Click to see a larger image (100K)
Daniel G. Hill and his three sisters from left:
Margaret, Doris and Jeanne, [ca. 1937-1939]
Daniel G. Hill fonds
Reference Code: F 2130-9-2-6.2
Archives of Ontario, I0027949

After growing up in the United States, graduating from Howard University and serving in the highly segregated American Army during World War II, Daniel Hill decided to leave his native country and move to Canada.

In 1950, he began graduate studies at the University of Toronto. After obtaining his PhD in sociology, Daniel Hill became a pioneer in human rights in Canada and a prominent writer and historian in the field of the history of Blacks in Canada.

The next section on Family Life contains information about Daniel Hill’s personal life. Here are some of the accomplishments for which he was best known in Canadian public life.

Professional Milestones
Cover: Negros in Toronto: A Sociological Study of a Minority Group
Cover page of PhD Thesis by Daniel G. Hill,
“Negroes in Toronto: A Sociological Study of a
Minority Group”, September 1960
Courtesy of Lawrence Hill
  • In 1960, he completed his ground-breaking dissertation called Negroes in Toronto: A Sociological Study of a Minority Group, as his PhD thesis for the University of Toronto.

  • In 1962, shortly after obtaining his PhD from the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, Daniel Hill was appointed as the first director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Commission was the first of its kind in Canada, and under Hill’s stewardship it went on to become a major public agency in the Province of Ontario. However, at its inception in 1962, it was a tiny operation located on York Street with just a handful of employees.

  • In 1971, Hill was appointed Chairman of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

  • In 1973, Hill resigned from the Commission to go into private business. He set up a company called Daniel G. Hill & Associates. It was a small business run out of his home in Don Mills, and the associates consisted of his wife Donna Hill and, for a year or so, his son Lawrence Hill. Nonetheless, Daniel G. Hill & Associates became the first human rights consulting firm in Canada, and advised numerous clients including the Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto, the Toronto Star, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, and the Government of Bermuda.

  • In 1978, along with his wife Donna Hill and a few close friends, Daniel Hill founded the Ontario Black History Society-the first organization of its kind in the country.
Cover: Book cover from, “The Freedom-Seekers: Blacks In Early Canada”, by Daniel G. Hill, 1981
Book cover from, “The Freedom-Seekers: Blacks In Early Canada”, by Daniel G. Hill, 1981
Reference Code: 301.45196071 H54
.Archives of Ontario Library
Reprinted with permission of Nelson, a division of Thomson Learning: Fax 800 730-2215.

  • In 1978, Hill was appointed by the Attorney General of Ontario to conduct a major study of the practices of religious cults, sects and mind development groups. His report was tabled in 1980.

  • In 1981, he published his major book, The Freedom Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada. Although other scholars had already written about the history of Blacks in Canada, Daniel Hill became the first person in the country to write a popular history on the subject. The book found a broad readership, and remained in print for 21 years until its final publisher, Stoddart Publishing Company, went bankrupt in 2002. Sadly, The Freedom Seekers disappeared with its publisher, although it remains available in Canadian libraries.

  • In 1984, Hill was appointed Ombudsman for the Province of Ontario. He held this position until his retirement at age 65 in 1989.

Daniel Hill developed diabetes in 1966, at the age of 43. He did not publicly acknowledge the illness until after his retirement. The illness became increasingly debilitating through the 1990s, and Daniel Hill finally died of diabetes-related complications in 2003.

Dan G. Hill III Audio Clip:

To listen to an excerpt from an interview by Tom Fulton on CJRT in "wav" format (612K) click here. It is also available in "aif" format (612K).

“One of the reasons we founded the Ontario Black History Society is because Black children from the islands, from the United States, from Africa have been told that they have no heritage here. They will relate to it (the exhibit) because they will know that their Black ancestors who came from Africa and who came to Canada and the United States did indeed contribute to the life and to the community and to the building of this country.”

Voice of Daniel G. Hill from interview by Tom Fulton for
CJRT’s “On the Arts” program, January 30, 1981
Daniel G. Hill fonds
Reference Code: F 2130-11-0-14
Archives of Ontario

Some six years before DGH III was born, his father and other educated black men were being summoned by their peers to “honour the race”, prove themselves as worthy American citizens and pave the way to a more equitable place in American society by enlisting in a military camp in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, where 1,250 black American men were to be trained as officers to serve in the American Forces in World War I. Daniel Hill II, the father of Daniel Hill III, attended this camp and became an officer in the war, eventually serving as a Second Lieutenant in the 368th infantry division in the trenches of France.

Photo: Black officers at WW1 training school in Des Moines, Iowa, [ca. 1917-1918]
Click to see a larger image (90K)
Black officers at WWI training school in
Des Moines, Iowa, [ca. 1917-1918]
Daniel G. Hill fonds
Reference Code: F 2130-9-2-18
Archives of Ontario, I0027970
This summons was significant because it trumpeted the profound desire of American Blacks to prove their equality and to win equitable treatment-at war and in society at large. It revealed much about the thinking that Daniel Hill III inherited from his parents and from middle class black society in the United States. He believed that it was his moral duty to prove his worth and earn a just place in society by becoming educated and successful in the working world, and by serving his country honourably in wartime.

To Read More about the Training at Des Moines, Click Here,