Monday, October 18, 2021

The Black History Memorial

 Mrs. F.G. was still busy checking for seeds, so I got time for a quick run down the Freedom Trail to the Black History Cairn.  I've shared this before but I enjoy seeing it at least once a year.

It's another paved trail with some 'forest' at one end, but in the developed part of the park it's quite open.

At the risk of repeating myself we start by passing this gorgeous orange Sugar Maple right at the start.

It's built to look like the ruined corner of a church, with a patio of tiles in front, the river in the background.

There are several information signs, this one providing background on the symbolism of the cairn.  The picture on the left is of the original black church in Owen Sound.

The patio features nine tiles made in the shape of quilt blocks.

And this sign provides information on the meaning of the symbols, used surreptitiously to indicate the route of the 'Underground Railway'.  

The window frames are modelled after those in the original black church in the area.

The Emancipation Day picnic is held here every August 1st, but last year it had to be held virtually.  Just by chance the day we visited was the day they were filming the role of the town crier.  You've seen these three pictures before.

We had a nice chat with the friendly couple in their period costumes before they were called back for more filming.

It was interesting to see how many people they needed for the filming.

Emancipation Day celebrates the day the Slavery Abolition Act came into force in the British Empire, on Aug. 1st, 1834.  With Canada then a British Colony this led to a large influx of black settlers to southern Ontario in the next three decades, until the end of slavery in the U.S. in 1865.  Emancipation Day has been a local festival here in Owen Sound since 1862, but in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement the federal government made this a national holiday in 2020.  Much like Juneteenth in the U.S., the national designation emerged from local promotions.


  1. I think many of us have been educated by the recent events, I know I have. Thank you for the great pictures!

  2. I agree with you the orange Sugar Maple is gorgeous.

    All the best Jan

  3. Love the quilt block tiles!! Beautiful.

  4. Those quilts hung on the clotheslines told of a safe trail, where the safe homes were, and the underground railway. A story to be kept for all to know, and the memorial is so beautiful, a lasting tribute.

  5. Yes...I didn't know about Ontario's being a safe place! Thank you. And you can't repeat orange/red sugar maples too often for me.

  6. What a great relic if that is the right word for a building or part of one. I hadn't realized that the 'railway' extended that far. I was thinking that it stopped in the London/Chatham area. But now I think there was probably more than one route.

  7. This is something I did not know. I did know that many of the escapees made their way to the Maritimes, but I wasn't aware of this part of the history. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Many who traveled the Underground Railroad into Canada settled in Ontario.

  9. What a great memorial. It is very moving.

  10. your sugar maples are the BEST!!! nice that you caught the emancipation day!!!!!

  11. That is a beautiful sugar maple. The replica of an old church is a great representation.
    The costumes are wonderful. Great photos and read.