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Sun Feb 19, 2012, 01:20 PM


what came after the Underground Railroad?

African-Americans who came to Canada -- their history has not been well told in Canada, and is likely even less known in the US.


Black History Month: The unknown story Toronto’s first black postman

When Albert Jackson showed up for his first day of work as a mailman, on May 17, 1882, the other letter carriers refused to show him the rounds. The reason: He was black.

... Toronto’s black community was galvanized into action and supported Jackson, a former child slave from the United States who had escaped to Canada along the Underground Railroad.

They were determined to see Jackson working his mail route and took their demands to John A. Macdonald, the prime minister. It was an election year, and they were heard. Wanting to please black voters, Macdonald intervened.

... Albert Calvin Jackson was born in Milford, Del., around 1856. His father was a free man but his mother, Ann Maria Jackson, was a slave, making Jackson and his eight siblings slaves as well.

When Ann Maria’s eldest two sons, James and Richard, were sold, she pleaded with her husband to run away and spare their other children a similar fate, writes Frost. But he grew depressed and insane over the loss of his boys and died grief-stricken.

In 1858, Ann Maria and her seven other children, the youngest of whom was Albert, escaped to Philadelphia, where African-American abolitionist William Still ran a station of the Underground Railroad, helping fugitive slaves on their journey north to freedom.

It's a longish article and an interesting read. At present, there is a move to name one of the lanes that run between city blocks in that part of Toronto after Albert Jackson. The Jackson family's history is part of the history of that neighbourhood (an area about 6 blocks by 6 blocks in downtown Toronto where I and all of my siblings have lived at various times, and where none of us could afford to live now).

This is a documentary about the Pennsylvania man who recorded the Jackson family's details as they travelled north:


Google toronto underground railroad for quite a lot of interesting historical info.

There are Underground Railroad Museums in Toronto and Windsor, Ontario:

The Toronto Archives has some interesting documentation:


This is one of several such petitions presented to City Council in the 1840s.Council enacted a by-law in 1840 enabling it to license travelling theatrical groups and circuses, and on at least one occasion, in July 1843, Council refused to let a circus perform without assurances that it would not sing songs or perform acts that would be insulting to “the gentlemen of colour” of the city.


Born in Toronto to parents who had been freed from slavery in Virginia, William Peyton Hubbard became this city's first Black elected politician and one of its most influential elected officials. A baker, cab driver, and businessman, Hubbard was first elected to City Council in 1894. At a time when Black Torontonians were barred from some Toronto hotels and restaurants, he won another 13 consecutive yearly elections, and became Toronto's second most powerful elected official, at times serving as acting Mayor. A passionate and sharp debater, Hubbard was an influential advocate for fairness, efficiency, and democracy in government, and a key supporter of public control of electricity and water supplies. Among other roles, Hubbard also served for 40 years as a Board member of the House of Industry, a municipal charity assisting Toronto's poor.

Black Canadians elsewhere (many of whom descended from earlier refugees, in the post-US revolution years) did not all fare so well; the story of Africville in Nova Scotia is a permanent and ongoing blot on Canadian history:


(edited post to fix a link)

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Reply what came after the Underground Railroad? (Original post)
iverglas Feb 2012 OP
bigtree Feb 2012 #1
iverglas Feb 2012 #2
Ptah Feb 2012 #3
iverglas Feb 2012 #5
Ptah Feb 2012 #6
onpatrol98 Feb 2012 #4
nofurylike Feb 2012 #7

Response to iverglas (Original post)

Sun Feb 19, 2012, 02:43 PM

1. cool

'people of colour'

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Response to bigtree (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 19, 2012, 02:54 PM

2. I thought that too!


Way back then.

This is the transcript in question:


His Worship the Mayor of Toronto

The petition of the undersigned, People of Colour; residing in the City of Toronto: Humbly Sheweth;

That your Petitioners are informed that a Company of "Circus Actors" from the United States (now travelling in this Province) are shortly to visit this City for the purpose of performing &c.

That Your Petitioners from the general and almost invariable practice of such Actors in their performances, have good reason to apprehend annoyances and insults, in the manner they endeavour to make the Coloured man appear ridiculous and contemptible in the eyes of their audience. Your Petitioners would humbly pray that Your Worship would be pleased to prevent the occurrence of such annoyances and insults, as Your Petitioners believe that such attempted Exhibitions of the African Character are not at all relished or approved of by the sensible and well thinking Inhabitants of this Community.

And Your Petitioners as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Toronto, 14th October 1841.

(James Johnson and 28 additional signatures attached)

... rats, when I copy the images, they come out giant-sized, but they're at that link to see.

typo edited

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Response to iverglas (Original post)

Sun Feb 19, 2012, 07:34 PM

3. African-American 'Buffalo Soldiers' protected national parks before rangers


WEST GLACIER - An often overlooked aspect of Glacier National Park's history is that its
earliest stewards were segregated black army regiments created during the Civil War and
whose members came to be known as "Buffalo Soldiers."

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Response to Ptah (Reply #3)

Sun Feb 19, 2012, 08:26 PM

5. for a minute I thought you meant



the real Glacier National Park.

The Underground Railroad itself did not extend that far west in Canada ... but there was later black immigration to the west:


February 1911: Anti-Black Campaign
By 1909, hundreds of Oklahoma Blacks had moved to the Canadian Prairies, where they met the same wariness and discrimination that had allowed slavery to exist in an earlier time. In February 1911, a few newspapers in Winnipeg even predicted that the Dominion government would move to exclude "Negro immigrants."

More unfortunately, there was much white immigration from the US to the Canadian west, and the religious/ethnic/political makeup of those groups is one explanation for the pronounced right-wing tendencies in western Canadian politics right up to today.


The Klan appealed to few Canadians and remained relatively obscure, except in Saskatchewan. After American organizers absconded with approximately $100 000 of Klan funds in 1927, the Saskatchewan organization regrouped and, at its height, just after the 1929 provincial election (in which it was influential in ending 24 years of Liberal rule), it boasted of having 40 000 members.

Thereafter the Saskatchewan Klan declined rapidly, as did the organization in the rest of Canada. In the late 1970s the Klan attempted once more to organize in Canada, notably in Ontario, Alberta and BC. The organization's avowed white-supremacist stance and further outrages committed by the American Klan during this period have done little either to increase membership or to establish the Klan's credibility in the eyes of the Canadian public.


The end came when American organizers skipped south over the border with money from the many Canadian branches of the KKK. Its last gasp came in 1930 in Oakville where Klan members burned a cross on a downtown street to protest a proposed marriage between a white woman and a Black. It turned out that the Black was a First Nations person.

Ontario’s Crown Attorney charged four of the local Klan leaders with, “going abroad at night in white masks, setting fires and defacing property.” One spent three months in jail.

Nobody ever accused them of being smart.

Hm. One of my great-grandfathers was living in Owen Sound at that time, the mid-1920s, when the KKK organized there. He wouldn't have been interested; his fraternal order was apparently something called the Hindu Kush, which he took with him when he deserted from the British military in India circa 1878, and which I am told focused on encouraging men to be honourable.

However, and I never think of this because I only heard it fairly recently and it's so bizarre, I am also told that another great-grandfather of mine did join the KKK in southern Ontario around the same time, and I have not the slightest clue what that would have been about, other than some kind of joining the crowd. He wasn't a nice person anyhow, that much I do know. Odd behaviour for a railway engineer who seems to have had Quaker associations before leaving England.

He might have been here ...


Dorchester's Donnybrook Fields was the site on Oct. 15, 1925, of the fustpublic initiation into the Ku Klux Klan ever held in Canada. Both Klansmen and new members were masked in white, hooded robes.
Hands on each other's shoulders, they circled the fIeld three times to the tune ofhynms played by a Klan band and then the new members (more than 100 residents of nearby London were reported to have joined) took the oath before an altar and flaming cross

Just poking around ... it seems that the KKK had come north to my home town earlier to escape, itself -- to escape justice in the US:


The Ku Klux Klan came to London, Ontario, in 1872, when the alleged Grand Wizard of the South Carolina Klan, Dr. J. Rufus Bratton, fleeing Pinkerton agents for the flogging of a crippled Black man, came to London. Some American histories record London as home to many Confederate refugees who could not return home after the American Civil War. Dr Bratton was kidnapped in broad daylight by American Pinkterton agents not far from present day St. Joseph's Hospital; this caused an international incident, and he was returned a few weeks later after personal intervention by Queen Victoria who protested violation of British sovereignty, the same laws earlier used to protect former Black slaves against kidnapping. Joined by his family, he continued to practice in London for almost another six years as a well-respected member of London society before returning home. Why were he and his teachings tolerated by Londoners? Hippocrates, thousands of years ago, said "If one wants to become a surgeon, one should follow the army."

Dr. Bratton was a Confederate war surgeon, and some say these men, working with far less supplies and medicines than their northern counterparts were the best surgeons in the world by war's end. Dr. Bratton was therefore likely a highly competent doctor and was to continue his medical research for the rest of his life. The doctor shortage in the 1870s was no better than it is today. Imagine if your child was run over by a horse cart and Dr. Bratton turned out to be the only one who could save him or her? As detested as the KKK would have been to good people, principles would take second place to the saving of your child's life by Dr. Bratton. These are the very real, everyday choices Londoners had to make in the past.

Actually, wealthy Londoners at the time were probably as racist and right-wing as they were when I grew up there.

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Response to iverglas (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 19, 2012, 08:33 PM

6. No, I was thinking of Glacier National Park in Montana.

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Response to iverglas (Original post)

Sun Feb 19, 2012, 07:55 PM

4. Great Post!

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Response to iverglas (Original post)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 07:37 AM

7. incredibly fascinating, iverglas!!

thank you so very much for posting this!!

still reading, and links to go, but just had to say ....

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