The Wright Museum


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Take part in a memorable heritage tour that will take you along the Underground Railroad to relive the plight of those who sought freedom under the northern star.  Includes deluxe motor coach transportation, narrated tour, admission and donation for all venues (please plan to bring or purchase your own lunch). 


Tickets are $60 per person.  Please make checks payable to Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, or Friends Committee of CHWMAAH. Reservation deadline is July 16.  A valid US Passport is required.


For more information please contact Willia Miller at (313) 361-3406. Sponsored by the Friends Committee of the Charles H. Wright Museum.


An African Canadian Heritage Tour Agenda

Saturday July 30, 2011

7 am: Board bus.  Line up on Farnsworth side of the Charles H. Wright Museum adjacent to parking lot.  Enter parking lot ($5 parking all day) from John R.

7:30 am: Depart Detroit promptly

9:30 am: Arrive at Chatham Ontario Wish Center (Woodstock Institute Sertoma Help).  Museum guided tour, Tracing the Footsteps to Freedom, or North Buxton - Buxton National Historical Sites & Museum

12 Noon: Lunch on your own; approximately one and a half hours

2 pm: Depart Chatham or Buxton (switch bus destination)

5 pm: Depart Buxton & Chatham

7:30 pm: Approximate return to Detroit


Footsteps to Freedom

It was in Canada that those who escaped slavery in the United States found peace, freedom and hope.  In 1783, following the American Revolution, many British loyalists left the United States and moved to upper Canada, taking their enslaved Africans with them.  On May 1, 1783, a bill was passed that prohibited further importation of slavery in upper Canada.  As a result, a substantial free Black population established roots in the region.


In the 1820s, enslaved Africans from the United States began following the North Star to find shelter under Canada's humanitarian policies.  By the 1830s, the Underground Railroad had brought the first permanent settlements of former slaves to Sandwich (Windsor Province), a small town in southwestern Ontario.  In August of 1833, King William IV gave royal assent to the bill that put an end to all slavery in what is today the country of Canada.


Tracing the Steps

Tracing our ancestors of pre-Civil War era, we will spend the day visiting sites in North Buxton and Chatham, Ontario, Canada, that reflect the courage and perseverance of our ancestors in their quest for freedom.


North Buxton, Ontario

The Buxton National Historic Site & Museum is on the original site of the Elgin Settlement, one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad for many runaway slaves.  In the mid-1800s, the settlement was a haven of freedom for fugitive slaves who risked everything to escape the brutality of slavery in the United States.


The settlement was built around an agricultural economy, but also included many thriving businesses, owned and operated by settlers.  A saw and grist mill, a potash and pearl-ash factory, a brickyard, hotel, blacksmith shop, and dry goods store contributed to the success of the community.  An original log cabin from the settlement sits adjacent to the museum.


The museum's prime goal is to preserve artifacts of the settlement with special emphasis on the history and accomplishments of the original settlers and their descendants.  Among other important artifacts, the museum houses Rev. William King's diary, important papers, dresser, a bed and a wedding gift made by former slaves.


Today Buxton is inhabited for the most part by the descendants of the original settlers who stayed in Canada.  Buxton is an active Black Canadian village with people who are dedicated to preserving their African American/Canadian heritage.


Chatham, Ontario

In the early 1800s, five black families settled along McGregor's Creek in the tiny town of Chatham, then known as "The Forks."  The village soon  became a haven for runaway slaves and by 1850, its population was one third Black.  Once here, Blacks in Chatham thrived in business, education, medicine, sports, and literary and cultural arts.  News of the success attracted Blacks to this area from across North America.  The history of Blacks in early Chatham is not only of local significance; the years of Black contribution and participation in southwestern Ontario has left a fundamental impression on the national landscape.


Also, included in the Chatham-Kent Underground Railroad tour experience are the Chatham First Baptist Church and the Mary Ann Shadd Cary Ontario Heritage Foundation Plaque.


Information courtesy of Buxton National Historic Site & Museum, and The Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society