Trac­ing free­dom

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - TRAVEL -

they would tie the slaves up to ac­tu­ally lash them and that’s from Amherstburg.”

Fader said it may come as a sur­prise that there was also slav­ery in the town.

Slav­ery was abol­ished in Canada in 1833, decades be­fore it was abol­ished in the U.S., so “that’s re­ally the pe­riod, the ’30s through the ’60s, that we were the stop on the Un­der­ground Rail­road,” she said.

The church, which sits next to the mu­seum, was built by for­mer slaves and free blacks in 1848. In 1999, the church was des­ig­nated a Na­tional His­toric Site of Canada. It was the first black his­tor­i­cal site in Canada, said Fader.

At­tached to the mu­seum is also a log cabin, which Fader said has been on the site since about 1855.

“That’s a his­toric home, so it was lived in by a num­ber of peo­ple through the years in­clud­ing Ge­orge Tay­lor, who was an es­caped slave and he fought in the Civil War,” she said.

“The de­scen­dants (of the free slaves) ac­tu­ally do­nated most of the ar­ti­facts that are on dis­play in the log cabin, so it’s re­ally set up to look like the home of an es­caped slave liv­ing in Amherstburg,” she added.

Fader said peo­ple are usu­ally very moved when they visit the mu­seum com­plex be­cause they weren’t aware of the his­tory.

“This isn’t some­thing we all learned a lot about in school, which is sur­pris­ing since it has such a strong con­nec­tion lo­cally, so peo­ple are of­ten shocked,” she said.

“They say, ’I didn’t know there was slav­ery in Canada.’ That’s what I get a lot. Peo­ple some­times have a very strong emo­tional re­ac­tion. They ac­tu­ally need to take a step back. They find it a bit over­whelm­ing and gen­er­ally peo­ple find it very in­ter­est­ing.”

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