Volume 91, Issue 73

Friday, February 6, 1998



Opening The History Books

Significant Black Canadians

Elder Washington Christian in 1825 organized the first Baptist Church.

Harriet Tubman was the famous Underground Railroad conductor who made her trips from St. Catharines in 1849, helping black slaves in the U.S. escape to Canada.

Mary Anne Shadd published the first black newspaper, Provincial Freedom, in Canada in 1853 with her brother.

William Hall V.C. was the first black Canadian to receive the Victoria Cross for his effort during a battle in 1857 against the mutineers of India.

Lawyer Leonard Braithwaite became the first black man to be elected to Canadian Parliament. He served as a member of the Ontario Legislature from 1963-1975.

Canadian sprinter Harry Jerome was the recipient of a bronze medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. In 1971 he was awarded the Order of Canada.

Daurene Lewis was the first black mayor in the province of Nova Scotia and the first black mayor in all of Canada.

Maestro Fresh Wes was the first black Canadian artist to reach platinum and gold record sales in the 1990s and the first to win a Juno for best rap recording.

Dates in Canadian Black History

1800-60: Black American slaves escape to Canada in what was known as the Underground Railroad.

1833: The British Imperial Act brings about an end to slavery in Canada.

1860: The all-black Victoria Rifle Corps is created to defend British Columbia despite black enrollment protests from the army.

1939-45: Despite resistance, blacks fight in World War II and eventually join the Canadian armed forces.

1979: Lincoln Alexander is the first black cabinet minister, later serving as lieutenant-governor of Ontario.

1992: Julius Alexander Isaac is the first black man appointed chief justice of the federal court of Canada.

1994: The first formal celebration of a Black History Month in Ontario, initiated by the Ontario Black History Society.

–Ontario Black History Society

To Contact The Focus Department: gazfocus@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998