image of underground railroad sign with footprints and north star

February is Black History Month

2018 Events

The Chatham-Kent Public Library 

February, 2018 "Breaking the Colour Barrier"

  • This project is a collaboration by the University of Windsor, the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame and the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society. The project documents the life of Wilfred (Boomer) Harding and the other members of the Chatham Coloured All-Stars baseball team. They were the first Black team to win an Ontario Baseball Association provincial championship in 1934. Details available here.

Buxton National Historic Site and Museum presents a "Sip & Sketch"

Friday, February 16 in the Schoolhouse from 7-9pm. 

  • Up to a registered maximum of 50 people will be supplied with the materials needed (canvas, paint, brushes) to paint what Black History means to them. An artist will demonstrate various techniques to make a personalized and incredible piece. At the same time, local artists are showcasing their own art in the cloak rooms of the school.

Chatham-Kent Historical Society and Black Mecca Museum

February 7, 7 PM – 8 PM "Breaking the Colour Barrier", Chatham-Kent Public Library

  • The Chatham Coloured All-Stars were the first Black team to win an Ontario Baseball Association championship in 1934. Their history has been digitized and preserved by the University of Windsor in collaboration with the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame, the family of Wilfred (Boomer) Harding who was a member of the team, and the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society. Dr. Heidi Jacobs and Dr. Miriam Wright from the University will talk about the project. Everyone welcome.

February 14, 7 p.m. "Harriet Tubman", Mary Webb Centre

Underground Railroad

What is now known as Chatham-Kent, was at the time considered a premier destination for freedom seekers. Follow the North Star to experience and relive some of the most heroic stories ever told at 3 unique sites. 

Considered the destination for freedom seekers, this region was home to some of the most successful Black settlements in Canadian history. Today, Buxton National Historic Site & Museum, Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historical Site and the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society all serve as windows into the past, allowing visitors to touch, feel, see and hear the stories of those who took heroic journeys, following the North Star to freedom in Chatham-Kent.

Buxton National Historic Site & Museumimage of teacher with tourists in the buxton school house

One of the last stops on the Underground Railroad, the Buxton National Historic Site & Museum  preserves the successful Buxton settlement and features original structures built by fugitive slaves. At Ontario’s second largest national historic site, visitors can "Ring the Liberty Bell" and tour the last standing schoolhouse, an 1852 log cabin, two churches, a cemetery and museum.

Uncle Tom's Cabinimage of man with slavery box and kids

Chatham-Kent is also home to Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site displays the life story of one of history’s most famous black slaves, Rev. Josiah Henson - the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin". Visitors can tour Henson’s home, a smokehouse, sawmill, the Henson Family Cemetery and Pioneer Church.

Chatham-Kent Black Historical Societyimage of women looking at exhibits

The Black Mecca Museum is run by the CKBHS out of the W.I.S.H Centre. This exhibit highlights the struggles and achievements of blacks during the days of slavery, early settlement in Chatham, the Civil Rights movement and modern times. A short walk from the Black Mecca Exhibit is the BME Freedom Park, located on the site of the first BME Church in Canada. At the BME Church, Abolitionist John Brown gained supporters for his attack on harper's Ferry, Virginia. The focal point of the park is a bronze bust of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, an educator and abolitionist who sought to improve the lives of people regardless of race or gender. Another point of interest in Chatham includes the Chatham First Baptist Church (available for exterior viewing only).

Chatham-Kent is also home to the Ontario Genealogy Society's Kent Branch, where descendants of fugitive slaves, and those with black ancestry can trace their roots and gain knowledge about details in how, when and where their ancestors arrived in Canada. The Kent Branch is located within the Chatham-Kent Public Library and invites members of the public seeking knowledge about their ancestry to do their own research using materials on their "open shelves" resource centre.