Black History in the area of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Painting by Ruth McMillan in 1976
Shows the Head of the Rideau Canal Locks in Ottawa, Canada in 1893
February 10, 2010:
The City of Ottawa celebrates Black History Month in February of each year.
The Black community has a web site at http://www.blackhistoryottawa.org/. There, you will
find relevant links to events regarding Black History occurring in our region.
This web site (Bytown or Bust), records the history of the Ottawa area of Ontario, Canada, by a co-operative
effort of researchers andcontributors to the web site. Something which I think is important for future
generations, is for us to record our past family history and our origins outside of Canada. Some of
our descendants will be interested in learning about their past.
The City of Ottawa was known as "Bytown" prior to the year 1855.
The first black person in this area was London Oxford, a free black man who was part of the original
pioneer group which came with Philemon Wright in the year 1800. (Source: "The Famous Township of Hull":
Image and Aspirations of a Pioneer Quebec Community, by Dr. Bruce Elliott.
The first documented black persons, whom I have found in Bytown was a man named Perry Adams and his
wife, Henrietta Joyce.
They were in Bytown in the year 1844. On March 10th of 1844, they baptized their child, Frances, at
Notre Dame Cathedral on Sussex Drive, in downtown Ottawa. The Godmother at this baptism was Mary McHale,
an Irish immigrant, who with her husband and family, farmed on the Manotick Station Road in
Osgoode Township. The McHale family were friends and neighbours of my Great Great Grandparents,
Lawrence Burns and Margaret Doyle.
Here is a copy of the baptism of Frances Adams: (Source: Drouin Records for Notre Dame Cathedral at ancestry.ca)
E-mail Allan Lewis
February 12, 2010:
An Ottawa Citizen article dated September 5, 1931, tells the story of some of the early blacks who served
in the War of 1812 for Canada. Some of them were given land grants in our area.
Read the complete article at:
January 9, 2010:
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in the American South in about 1818. By 1845, he was a free man living in
New Bedford, Massachussetts. As part of a 2nd year American History course at Carleton University, the students were
required to write an article about slavery. See mine, here.
October 21, 2010:
In 1806, Philomen Wright took the first raft of timber from Hull, Quebec, to Quebec City for sale to the
export market. Among the first persons on this initial trip was London Oxford.
Source: Colonial Identities: Canada from 1760 to 1815, page 127
December 27, 2010:
The Ottawa Black Community celebrates Jaku Konbit. There is an article by Louisa Taylor in today's Ottawa Citizen
relating the experience of two black women who came to Ottawa to work as domestics in the 1950's. They were
pioneers from Jamaica and other parts of the Carribean.
According to the Jaku Konbit web site, Jaku Konbit is a registered non-profit, educational community-based and
family-oriented organization established in Ottawa in 2000. Our mandate is to support and ameliorate the lives of
minority and disadvantaged youth, particularly Canadian children and youth of African and Caribbean descent
in the Ottawa Region.
February 24, 2011:
The Bytown or Bust Library now has a copy of The Blacks in Canada. Written in 1971, this
556 page book by Robin W. Winks at Yale University is the authoritative book describing the history of the Black
community in Canada from 1628 to the 1960's, before the large scale immigration of the last 40 years. (starting from the Caribbean).
The Blacks in Canada, by Robin Winks, 1971, McGill - Queen's University Press and Yale
University Press, ISBN 0-300-01361-2 (Hard Cover)
and another book:
Uncle Tom's Cabin, or, Life among the Lowly, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852, ISBN 0-375-75693-0, Random House Publishers.
February 8, 2012:
A very good article on slavery in Upper Canada appears in the February 2012 issue of "Families",
published by the Ontario Genealogical Society.
Hunting for Hidden History: How Slavery Came to the Town of York, by Hilary Dawson.
Visit the OGS Ottawa Branch web site.
September 29, 2012:
History 3507 at Carleton University is a course on Canadian Immigration after 1875. This course is
taught by Professor Marilyn Barber. One of the readings is Racial Discrimination in Canada:
The Black Experience, written byJames W. St.G. Walker. This is a booklet prepared by the
Canadian Historical Association in 1985 and it is Number 41 in their series on Ethnic Groups
Here is another very good book relating to anti-black discrimination and racism in Canada in
the late 19th and early 20th centuries:
Race on Trial: Black Defendants in Ontario's Criminal Courts, 1858-1958, (University of
Toronto Press, 2010), by Barrington Walker.
April 10, 2016:
Hello Olivia & Allan,
The site I manage is a Facebook page which I believe can be viewed by anyone even without a Facebook account.
Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/Afri-Cans-268257609998369/.
I would be happy for you to share it with whomever you would like and you may certainly post it.
And here is another good link: The Ontario Black History Society.