Inducted: October 29, 2003
This was at a time when black young people were barred from participation in many sports and recreational projects in the larger community. Mr. Prince’s response to that unpleasant reality was to develop activities that would give North Buxton and Raleigh Township young black people parallel opportunities.
Mr. Prince was born in Raleigh Township in 1908, one of four children of Thomas and Julia Prince. He attended the North Buxton School, S.S. 13, Raleigh Township. Opportunities for additional education were limited at that time.
He farmed on Concession 8, Raleigh Township, and at one time, kept dairy cows to provide his neighbours with milk, long before an Ontario Milk Producers’ Marketing Board came into being.
After his marriage to Erma Henderson, their home became a centre for community activities. He organized a Drama Club, and used the money raised by the Club’s productions to acquire a Community Hall in 1930.
He attended the Chatham Vocational School at night to learn more about carpentry and other practical crafts, knowledge he passed on to anyone in the community who was interested.
The Farmers’ Club he initiated and supported was a small-scale co-operative. The Club bought fertilizer, seed, coal and other necessities in bulk at wholesale prices and passed on the savings to farmers, many of them living on a stark subsistence basis, through the Depression and war years.
The Tyro Boys’ Club that he organized in 1957, provided young men with the opportunity to learn more about handicrafts and games.
He had the drive and soul of an entrepreneur, long before that word became a popular part of the English language.
In 1966/67, both before and after Raleigh Township Council decided to direct the municipality’s Centennial funds to a North Buxton Museum, Mr. Prince was an enthusiastic supporter. He headed the construction crew that built the first phase of the museum in 1966. The Museum has since been expanded, and as the Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, has attracted visitors interested in black history and the underground railroad from all parts of Canada, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, from many States, and from South Africa, England and Holland.
Mr. Prince was an active member of the B.M.E. Church.
The Princes had two children, Jerry (Audrey), who lives on the family farm; and Cora (Lyle) Travis, of London. There are six grandchildren.
Mr. Prince is remembered best for his dynamic approach to life. One person recalled, “He didn’t think that anything was impossible! He cared about the community deeply, and he worked for it. He couldn’t see any reason that North Buxton should not have everything that the rest of Canada had!”
He was, according to his son, Jerry, “a very good father”. Others in the community remember him as a catalyst for positive change. He was “full of ideas”, and “a strong minded person”. “He had a great personality, and could work with people of all ages!”