Monday, 12 February 2018

Perth & District Historical Society February Meeting

On Thursday, 15 February, 2018 the Society will welcome a presentation by local historian and author Ron W. Shaw on Perth and area's earliest Black citizens, in support of Black History Month in Canada.  
 
Blacks have had a presence in Canada since the 17th century, when the first Black slave arrived at Quebec in 1629.  By the time of the conquest in 1759, there were 1,100 in the colony.  Following the American Revolution, Loyalists brought 2,000 Black slaves with them and Britain evacuated 2,000 freed slaves to Nova Scotia.  With the abolishment of slavery in Upper Canada in 1833, more than 25,000 runaway slaves fled to what is now Ontario from the United States, by the Underground Railway, between 1840 and 1860. Later, as a consequence of the U.S. Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and the impact of the Dred Scott decision of 1857, thousands of American free state Blacks joined the former slaves in Canada.  
 
Although generally thought of as exclusively Scots-Irish-English in its origins, and little effected by the Loyalist influx and the distant Underground Railway, the Perth area population included citizens of colour since its founding in 1816.  At least two of the original soldier-settlers were Black men, born in the West Indies.  They were followed, in the 1850s, by American-born Black families who called Perth home into the 1920s.  Successively operating businesses on Gore Street over a period of 70 years, the Browns, Gilberts and Jacksons were important and well-regarded members of the local community.  George Gilbert regularly won prizes at the South Lanark Agricultural Fair.  John Jackson played coronet in the Citizens Band, was a leading member of the Perth Cricket Club (recognized by the Almonte Gazette as having no equal in these parts as a wicket keeper) and was described in his obituary as one of the best-known men in town.  
 
Perth native Ron W. Shaw was educated at P&DCI and Algonquin College, and worked for a number of years as a newspaper, radio and television journalist in northern and western Ontario, before his career in international development and relief.  Over a 35-year period, Ron has lived in nine countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and worked in 31 others.  He is the author of seven books, five of which are related to the early history of Perth, and is a frequent contributor to our Perth & District Historical Society website.  Ron is married, the father of three children, and lives in Drummond Township where his ancestors settled in 1816. 

This presentation is at Perth's Royal Canadian Legion, home of the Hall of Remembrance, 26 Beckwith Street E., Perth, 7:30pm (Toonie Donation)
 
Find any updated information and new articles on Perth area history website at <www.perthhs.org>

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