Did you know this February marks Canada’s 25th Black History Month being recognized by the House of Commons? We’ve had 25 months dedicated to learning about Black history to pave a brighter path forward, to combat systemic racism and create a place for equality. Most of us would agree that there is still a lot more work to be done.
It is important to learn about the history of our area. The good, the bad, the embarrassing, and the inspiring. Learning about Black history is important for every single person in Ontario’s Southwest during Black History Month and every other day of the year too. You need to know about the history before you can build a better future.
Here are some ways to start learning about Black history in Ontario’s Southwest. When in lockdown, we recommend that locals stay home and to wait to explore these locations when it is safe to do so. For now, please stay home, stay safe, and explore virtually.
Black History Museums in Ontario’s Southwest
Ontario’s Southwest was the gateway into Canada for many freedom seekers via the Underground Railroad. As a result, we have many historical landmarks, settlements, and museums with vast resources available to those wanting to learn about Canadian Black History.
Doors Open Ontario is a free online resource that provides virtual resources and tours of three Chatham-Kent Black heritage sites. Learn about the underground railway and the history of the Black community of Buxton in the virtual tour Buxton National Historic Site and Museum. Experience the virtual tour of Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society and Black Mecca Museum and learn more about the Chatham Coloured All-Stars baseball team. Virtually tour Uncle Tom’s Cabin and hear the true story of Josiah Henson.
The Underground Railway Museum in Windsor-Essex is hosting virtual tours for $10. Watching paid tours is highly suggested as it helps them stay open and provide this important information. In addition, consider donating to any museums with free virtual tours so that they can stay open for you to visit when it is safe to.
Museum London is celebrating Black History Month with a video tour of the exhibition "Black Lives Matter, London" which features signs from the 2020 Black Lives Matter protest and will also be releasing a Black History Tour of London and Southwestern Ontario.
You should also follow these museums on Facebook. They often post additional information about local Black history and to will keep you in the loop on any virtual workshops and events. Click the links below to be directed to their social media.
- Buxton Museum
- Amherstburg Freedom Museum
- Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society & Black Mecca Museum
- John Freeman Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum
- Museum London
Take a Trip Through Time
While you can’t travel right now, you can dream of the places that you’ll go when it is safe to. Here are a few road trip routes to Black heritage sites in Ontario’s Southwest that you can look forward to when the time is right.
You can take a drive to visit all the historical plaques with information about Black history across Ontario’s Southwest. Click here for a map that was created using information from Ontario Heritage Trust, Haldimand County, and Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island.
- Historical Plaques in Ontario’s Southwest:
Imagine yourself on a road trip and “Travel along the Freedom Trail” by reading about it. Of course, you can only use your imagination for now, but consider buying gift cards at some of the locations mentioned so that they will be open when it is safe to travel again.
Ontario’s Southwest Experienced by Black Creators
There’s no better way to discover the impact history has had on Black people than by reading and watching first-hand accounts about their experiences. Some content listed below was created prior to COVID-19 and therefore can used to virtually experience the sites and for future travel planning purposes.
A Trip to Chatham-Kent: A Lesson in Black History my Education is Missing, by Cameron Davis, is an illuminating account of the lessons available to visitors at the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society & Black Mecca Museum, the Buxton National Historic Site & Museum, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site.
Black Foodie Tour in Southwest Ontario, by Eden Hagos, is a VLOG of her experience exploring Windsor and Chatham-Kent. During her trip, she got to try the diverse food scene and take a deep dive into the many ways this area has shaped Canadian Black History.
Pride of Place, by Heather Greenwood Davis, is an article that was published in the Travel + Leisure Magazine about the small-town Black history monuments that Heather visits in Ontario’s Southwest.
With lockdowns and stay at home orders in place, we recommend that locals stay home as much as possible and use this article to inspire future travel. Only venture out for essentials and if you feel comfortable doing so safely and in accordance with health guidelines. Better yet, buying gift cards and shopping online is a great way to show your support for these local businesses while staying safe.
To learn more about what you can expect when exploring in Ontario’s Southwest and how businesses are trying to keep you safe and following government guidelines, click here.