Historical Plaques of
Chatham-Kent

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The following 4 plaques were sent in by Suzanne Schaller

PLAQUE #1


Location: Tecumseh Park on the Thames River, Chatham

CHATHAM BLOCKHOUSE 1794
On this site a blockhouse was constructed in 1794 by order of Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe. He planned to establish here a small naval arsenal which would form a link in the defences of Upper Canada's western frontier and also draw the Indian trade from Detroit. The post was garrisoned by a detachment of the Queen's Rangers, and two gunheads were built; but by 1797 it was abandoned. In 1798 the province's Administrator, Peter Russell, had the blockhouse moved to Sandwich to serve as the Western District's courthouse and gaol.

PLAQUE #2


Location: Highway 2, outside Thamesville

Tecumseh
1768-1813
Born in a Shawnee village in what is now Ohio, Tecumseh became in the 1770s co-leader with his brother, the Prophet, of a movement to restore and preserve traditional Indian values. He believed a union of all the Western tribes to drive back white settlement to be the one hope for Indian survival, and spread this idea the length of the frontier. Seeing the Americans as the immediate threat, he allied himself with the British in 1812, assisted in the capture of Detroit, and was killed near here at the Battle of the Thames, on 5th October 1813, while retreating with General Proctor from Amherstburg.

Né dans un village shawnee de l'Ohio, Tecumseh prit avec son frère "le Prophete", dans les années 1790, la tête d'un mouvement visant à restaurer et à préserver les traditions indiennes. Il croyait et professa que l'union de toutes les tribus de l'Ouest contre les Blancs était le seul espoir de survie des autochtones. Considérant les Américains comme la menace la plus immédiate, il se joignit aux Anglais en 1812, participa à la prise de Détroit et à la campagne sur la Miami. Il fut tué près d'ici, à la bataille de la Thames, alors qu'il accompagnait les troupes du général Procter retraitant d'Amherstburgh.


Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #3


Location: Highway 2, between Thamesville and Bothwell.
Current location of Fairfield Museum

THE FAIRFIELD MISSION
On this spot, David Zeisburger, missionary of the Unity of the Brethren, commonly called the Moravian Church, first preached the gospel of Christ on 8th May, 1792. This mission to the Indians, interrupted by the War of 1812, was resumed, after peace was signed, at New Fairfield across the river, and carried on by the Moravians until 1903, by the Methodist Church of Canada 1903-1925, and since then by the United Church of Canada. "This historic site was given to the United Church of Canada in loving memory of Neil McGeachy and Agnes E. McGeachy by their son William A. McGeachy.

PLAQUE #4


Location: Highway 2, between Thamesville and Bothwell.
Current location of Fairfield Museum

FAIRFIELD ON THE THAMES
FAIRFIELD SUR LA THAMES
Here stood the village of Fairfield, destroyed by invading American forces following the Battle of the Thames, 5th October 1813. Its inhabitants, Delaware Indian exiles brought from Ohio to Canada in 1792 by Moravian missionaries, were re-established on the opposite bank of the river after the Peace of 1814.

Ici était situé le village de Fairfield, détruit par les forces d'invasion américaines après la bataille de la Thames, le 5 octobre 1813. Ses habitants, des Indiens Delawares exilés que des missionnaires moraves avaient amenés de l'Ohio en 1792, furent réinstallés sur la rive opposée de la rivière après le traité de 1814.


Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #5


Location: Civic Square Park, Wallaceburg

JAMES PARIS LEE 1831 - 1904
One of the foremost 19th century arms inventors, Lee was born in Scotland. In 1836 his family came to Canada and settled at Galt. Lee was trained in his father's profession of watchmaker and jeweller, before moving to Wisconsin about 1858, where he began his career as an inventor. His greatest contribution to firearms design was made in 1878 when he completed the development of the "box magazine". Tradition holds that this occurred at Wallaceburg while Lee was visiting his brother John, a local foundry owner. The magazine was first incorporated in his U.S. Navy rifle of 1879. Eight years later his rifle was adopted by the British Army and, with modifications, it became, in 1895, the Lee-Enfield, which remained a standard British weapon for over sixty years.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation

PLAQUE #6


Location: In Library Park, James & Nelson St., Wallaceburg

WALLACEBURG
The Chippewa surrendered their lands in this area by treaty in 1796. The first European presence in this area was Lord Selkirk's nearby Baldoon Settlement, founded in 1804. It failed because of its poor location, but some of the settlers relocated here at the forks of the Sydenham River. Laughlan McDougall, the first arrival, built a trading post and tavern at "The Forks" in the early 1820s. When a post office opened in 1837, the hamlet was named Wallaceburg after Scottish patriot Sir William Wallace. In subsequent decades the community prospered as the hub of the area's lumber trade and as a market town and industrial centre. Wallaceburg became a village in 1875 and a town in 1896.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation

PLAQUE #7


Location: at the Town Hall, 485 St. Geoge St., Dresden

THE FOUNDING OF DRESDEN
In 1846 Daniel van Allen, a Chatham merchant, laid out a town plot on land purchased from Jared Lindsley, the first settler (1825) on the site of Dresden. By 1849 the erection of a steam sawmill, and the operation of a grist-mill in the neighbouring Dawn Institute Settlement founded by Josiah Henson, provided the basis for a thriving community in this area. A post office named "Dresden" was opened in 1854. The regions timber resources and the navigation facilities afforded by the Sydenham River fostered industrial growth. A county by-law of 1871 incorporated Dresden as a village with a population of about 750. Ten years later it became a town.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Achives of Ontario

PLAQUE #8


Location: at the end of Park Rd. at the Henson Family Cemetery, Dresden

JOSIAH HENSON
(1789 - 1883)
After escaping to Upper Canada from slavery in Kentucky, the Reverend Josiah Henson became a conductor of the Underground Railroad and a force in the abolition movement. The founder of the Black settlement of Dawn, he was also an entrepreneur and established a school, the British-American Institute. His fame grew after Harriet Beecher Stowe stated that his memoirs published in 1849 had provided "conceptions and incidents" for her extraordinarily popular novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Henson's celebrity raised international awareness of Canada as a haven for refugees from slavery.

Après s'être enfui du Kentucky où il vivait en esclavage, le révérend Henson s'installa au Haut-Canada et s'imposa comme chef de file dans le réseau du chemin de fer clandestin et au sein du mouvement abolitionniste. Fondateur de la communauté noire de Dawn, il fut aussi un entrepreneur et mit sur pied une école, le British-American Institute. Il devint particulièrement célèbre quand Harriet Beecher Stowe déclara s'être inspirée de ses mémoires, publiés en 1849, pour écrire son célèbre roman La Case de l'oncle Tom. La renommée de Henson révéla au monde que le Canada's avérait une terre d'accueil pour les esclaves fugitifs.


Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #9


Location: at the end of Park Rd. next to the Henson Family Cemetery, Dresden

THE DAWN SETTLEMENT
In the 1830s, the Reverend Josiah Henson and other abolitionists sought ways to provide refugees from slavery with the education and skills they needed to become self-sufficient in Upper Canada. They purchased 200 acres of land here in 1841 and established the British American Institute, one of the first schools in Canada to emphasize vocational training. The community of Dawn developed around the Institute. Its residents farmed, attended the Institute, and worked at sawmills, grist mills, and other local industries. Some returned to the United States after emancipation was proclaimed in 1863. Others remained, contributing to the establishment of a significant black community in this part of the province.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
an Agency of the Government of Ontario

PLAQUE #10


Location: Thamesville

TECUMSEH HOUSE 1899
Tecumseh House was built by George Watts in 1899. His grandfather operated a stage coach stop on Longwoods Road East until the Great Western Railway was completed through this area in 1854. The Watts family then built the Western Hotel on this location to accomodate railway travelers, salesmen and local clentele. Its replacement, Tecumseh House, had the most modern features in the business: lights, running water and steam heat.

Tecumseh House flourished until the voters banned the sale of liquor through the Local Option By-law in 1905. Despite a reduction of business during the Prohibition and Depression subsequent owners maintained the high standards of service established by the Watts' family. In 1986 owners Mel and Sandy Pinsonneault undertook the renovation of the entire building.

Erected 1998 by the Thamesville & District Historical Society with the assistance of the Ontario Heritage Foundation


PLAQUE #11


Location: Thamesville

ROBERTSON DAVIES
1913 - 1995
Robertson Davies, internationally acclaimed author, was born in Thamesville at 145 Elizabeth Street. His father, Rupert Davies, was owner/publisher of the Thamesville Herald from 1908 to 1919 and a respected leader of this community. Robertson Davies is recognized as one of Canada's foremost novelists, playwrights and journalists. Although he travelled widely he made his life in a small town an integral part of his writing. He drew upon the history of Thamesville for the setting and characters of the Deptford Trilogy, particularly in the first volume, Fifth Business. The reader of this novel can visualize walking along the streets near Thamesville's Town Hall just as Robertson Davies walked as a young boy.

Erected 1998 by the Thamesville & District Historical Society with the assistance of the Ontario Heritage Foundation


PLAQUE #12


Location: King St., Chatham

MARTIN DELANY
Dr. Martin Delany, regarded by many as the father of black nationalism, was born free in Charles Town Virginia in 1812 and moved to Chatham in 1856. During his nine years stay, he practised medicine in the Villa Mansion on this site and participated in John Brown's Chatham Convention. Delany later became active in recruiting black soldiers for the Union Army and became that army's first black officer in 1865. Active in South Carolina politics during reconstruction, Delany is buried in Wilberforce, Ohio.

Sponsored by
Ontario Heritage Foundation
& the Zonta Club of Chatham-Kent
researched by
Chatham Collegiate Institute students
N. Bains, N. Crawford, S. French. S. Somani

PLAQUE #13


Location: at the Church, 135 King St. E., Chatham

JOHN BROWN'S CONVENTION 1858
On May 10, 1858, American abolitionist John Brown held the last in a series of clandestine meetings here at First Baptist Church. Brown planned to establish an independent republic within the United States and wage guerrilla war to liberate the South from slavery. He came to Upper Canada to recruit blacks who had fled here in the wake of the Fugitive Slave Law (1850). On October 16, 1859, Brown and 21 supporters seized the government arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and held it against counter-attack for two days. Brown, executed as a traitor, became for many a martyr and hero. His actions escalated the tensions between North and South that led to civil war in 1861.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
an agency of the Government of Ontairo

PLAQUE #14


Location: King St. E., in front of the Woodstock Institute Sertoma Help Centre, Chatham

MARY ANN SHADD CARY 1823 - 1893
African Americans came to Canada in increasing numbers after the United States passed the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850. Some settled in segregated communities, others, like Mary Ann Shadd, promoted full integration into society. A teacher and anti-slavery crusader, Shadd immigrated to Windsor in 1851. She started the "Provincial Freeman" in 1853 to encourage Blacks to seek equality through education and self-reliance. Two years later she moved the newspaper to Chatham, where it operated for the rest of the decade. Widowed in 1860, Shadd Cary returned to the U.S. in 1863 to work for racial equality in the aftermath of emancipation. She was the first Black woman known to have edited a North American newspaper.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation

PLAQUE #15


Location: King St. E., inside the Woodstock Institute Sertoma Help Centre, Chatham

MARY ANN SHADD (CARY)(1823 - 1893)
Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Mary Ann Shadd became a prominent activist in the Underground Railroad refugee communities of Upper Canada during the 1850s. Arriving in 1851, she taught refugee children and urged skilled Blacks to seek haven in Canada from the increasingly dangerous conditions in the United States. In 1853, Shadd established the Provincial Freeman, an influential newspaper which encouraged self-reliance and argued for the rights of Blacks and women. The paper waged war on slavery and bigotry, becoming the leading voice of the refugees in Canada.

Née à Wilmington, Delaware, Mary Ann Shadd devint l'une des figures de proue des communautés de réfugiés du chemin de fer clandestin au Haut-Canada dans les années 1850. Arrivée en 1851, elle enseigna aux enfants de ces familles et encouragea les Noirs qualifiés à fuir leurs conditions de vie difficiles aux États-Unis pour gagner un meilleur pays. En 1853, elle créa le principal outil d'expression des réfugiés au Canada: le Provincial Freeman, journal influent qui prônait leur autonomie et dénonçait l'esclavage ainsi que la bigoterie tout en plaidant la cause des femmes.


Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #16


Location: 21 Seventh St., Chatham

KENT COUNTY COURT HOUSE
In 1847 the Kent District was established and authority was given for the erection of a court house and jail at Chatham. One year later construction began according to plans submitted by the prominent Canadian architect William Thomas. Designed in the Neo-classical style common to many contemporary public buildings, this well-proportioned white limestone structure features a balustraded balcony above the entrance, a prominent pediment and a crowning cupola. The building was completed in 1850 and the first county council meeting was held here on August 26. An important judicial and adminstrative centre for this region, the Kent County Court House continues to house the courts of the county even though administrative growth has compelled the transfer of various offices to other locations.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation

PLAQUE #17


Location: In front of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Pain Court

PAIN COURT
Settlement of this region began in the 1780s when English and French-speaking squatters from the Detroit area moved on to the Indian lands along the lower Thames River. By the 1820s in the nearby "Pain Court Block", one of the earliest French-speaking communities in southern Ontario had developed. Named "Pain Court" by Catholic missionaries in reference to the small loaves of bread which was all the impoverished parishioners could offer, the settlement was surveyed in 1829. In 1852 a chapel was built and two years later construction of a church commenced. It quickly became the cultural and educational centre of French-speaking Catholics in the area. By 1866 when a post office was established, a small village had developed.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation

PLAQUE #18


Location: 5425 Tecumseh Rd., (Co. Rd. 36) east of Co. Rd. 1,
just northeast of Tilbury

ST. PETER'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
The religious centre for a thriving Franco-Ontario community, this substantial brick structure was built to serve La Paroisse de St. Pierre sur la Tranche, the second oldest Roman Catholic parish in southwestern Ontario, established in 1802. It was erected in 1896, with volunteer labour provided by parishioners, and replaced an earlier building destroyed by fire the year before. Prominently situated in a rural setting overlooking the Thames River, St. Peter's is distinguished by its tall, square tower, spiral steeple and decorative brickwork. The church's most notable features however are the eighteen ecclesiastical paintings that grace the interior. Commissioned in 1920, they are the work of Marie Joseph Georges Delfosse (1869-1939), a French-Canadian artist noted for his religious and historical tableaux.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Citizenship and Culture

PLAQUE #19


Location: St. Andrew's United Church, intersection of
Co. Rds. 8 & 6, South Buxton

THE BUXTON SETTLEMENT 1849
In 1849 the "Elgin Association", founded by a Presbyterian minister, the Reverend William King (1812-95), purchased 4300 acres of land in this area on which were settled freed and fugitve Negro slaves. Under King's direction the settlement prospered, and in 1851 Buxton post office, named after Sir T.F. Buxton, the British emancipator, was opened. By 1864 the community contained about 1000 persons, a combined saw and grist-mill, a brickyard and other small industries. During the U.S. Civil War seventy Buxton settlers served in the Union forces. Following that conflict a number of the settlers returned to their former homes in the United States, but descendants of those remaining still live in this region.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #20


Location: at the Municipal Building, 35 Talbot St. W., Blenheim

THE FOUNDING OF BLENHEIM
In 1837 James W. Little, a militia officer and land speculator of neighbouring Raleigh Township, purchased land here at the intersection of Ridge Road and Communication Road, the latter planned by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe to connect the town of Chatham with Lake Erie. Little surveyed a village plot, named Blenheim, but sold few lots before 1847. The completion in that year of Rondeau Harbour and of Communication Road fostered the development of lumbering and within a few years a steam sawmill had been erected at Blenheim. By 1857 the population had increased to about 450. As lumbering declined Blenheim emerged as a prosperous agricultural centre. It was incorporated as a Village, with a population of 1,096, in 1874, and as a Town in 1885.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Ministry of Colleges and Universities

PLAQUE #21


Location: Blenheim Memorial Patk, Chatham St., Blenheim

McKEE'S PURCHASE
L'ACHAT DE McKEE
In May 1790 Alexander McKee, Deputy Agent of the British Indian Department, and the principal chiefs of the Ottawa, Potawatomi, Chippewa and Wyandot negotiated a treaty whereby the British Crown acquired title to what is now southwestern Ontario. This treaty completed the process begun with Niagara treaties of 1781 and 1784, with the result that most of the Ontario peninsula was soon opened to British and Loyalist settlement.

En mai 1790, l'envoyé du département des Indiens, Alexander McKee, et les principaux chefs outaouais, potéouatemis, sauteux et wendats (hurons) négocièrent un traité cédant à la Couronne britannique la majeure partie du sud-ouest actuel de l'Ontario. Ce traité du complétait le processus mis en branle par la signature des traités du Niagara en 1771 et 1774, ouvrant la porte d'une bonne partie de la péninsule ontarienne aux colons anglais et loyalistes.


Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #22


Location: at the United Church, junction of Co. Rds. 3 & 10, Cedar Springs

HARRY G.B. MINER V.C. 1891 - 1918
Born in Raleigh Township, Miner enlisted in the 142nd Battalion, C.E.F. in December, 1915, and the following year transferred to the 58th Battalion, then serving in France. During a Canadian attack near Amiens on August 8, 1918, Corporal Miner rushed a German machine gun post single-handed and turned the gun on the enemy. Later, with two companions, he assaulted another post and put its gun out of action, following which he again attacked alone and captured an enemy bombing post. In carrying out these gallant acts he was mortally wounded. For his conspicuous bravery Corporal Miner was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre and the British Empire's highest award for military valour the Victoria Cross.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #23


Location: at the Public Library, Main St., Ridgetown

THE FOUNDING OF RIDGETOWN
By 1826 the earliest settlers on the site of Ridgetown, notably William Marsh, James Watson, Edmund Mitton and Ebenezer Colby, had located in this vicinity. Marsh, the first to arrive, was granted a lease on 200 acres of Clergy Reserve land in 1831. Although the settlement's growth was slow, in 1853 a post office was opened. By 1858, with a population of 300, Ridgetown contained stores, hotels and a mill owned by John Moody, one of its most enterprising businessmen. The arrival in 1872 of the Canada Southern Railway from Fort Erie to Amherstburg spurred the development of the community and with a population of 803 it was incorporated as a Village by a County by-law of 1875. Six years later it became a Town.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry Culture and Recreation

The following plaque was sent in by the McRae Family;
Tom, Cathy, Sarah, Daniel, Matthew, Alexander and Nick

PLAQUE #24


Location: at the Rondeau Provincial Park Visitors Centre, deep in the Park,
at the corner of Gardiner Avenue and Lakeshore Road

THE WILKINS EXPEDITION
1763
On November 7, 1763 a fleet of small boats carrying nearly 700 officers and men of the 60th and 80th Regiments under Major John Wilkins, was forced ashore by a violent storm about three miles east of this point. The expedition had set out from Niagara on October 19 to relieve the British post at Detroit, commanded by Major Henry Gladwin, which was then under siege by a powerful force of Indians led by Pontiac. Some seventy men and twenty boats with most of the supplies were lost in the storm. Wilkins and the survivors reached the shore where they buried the dead and encamped for five days before returning to Niagara.

Erected by the Ontario Archeological and Historic Sites Board

The following plaque was sent in by Wayne Stickley

PLAQUE #25


Location: Morpeth, Ontario

ARCHIBALD LAMPMAN

1861 - 1899

Born in Morpeth, Upper Canada, Lampman spent most of his short adult life unhappily working as a clerk in the Post Office Department in Ottawa, for poetry was his true vocation. One of the "sixties group" which wrote Canada's first noteworthy English verse, his work shows the influence of English writers, particularly Keats and Arnold, and of American nineteenth-century literature. Author of many poems describing Ottawa's rural environs, he complemented this interest in Nature by commenting poetically on the dehumanizing effects of a mechanized capitalist society. He died at Ottawa.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #26


Location: In Chatham, on the NW corner of Victoria Avenue and Selkirk Street

EMILY FERGUSON MURPHY 1868 -1933
A leading Canadian feminist, journalist and reformer, Emily Murphy lived in Chatham from 1890 to 1894 when her husband was rector of this church. In 1916 she was appointed police magistrate for Edmonton. Her authority was challanged by a lawyer who claimed that under the British North American Act women were not legal "persons" and could not hold crown appointments. Women's organizations tested the law repeatedly by submitting female candidates for the Senate. All were rejected. Judge Murphy, with four other Alberta feminists, took the "Persons Case" to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain. That body ruled in 1929 that women were indeed persons. The following year, a woman was appointed to the Senate of Canada.

Ontario Heritage Foundation, Ministry of Culture and Communications

PLAQUE #27


Location: In a park on the west side of County Road 33 across from Langstaff Line

THE BALDOON SETTLEMENT
- 1804 - 1818 -
On September 5, 1804, fifteen families of Scotish emigrants numbering some ninety persons landed near this site. Named after an estate in Scotland, the settlement was sponsored by Lord Selkirk who later founded the Red River Colony. The low-lying and frequently-flooded lands were difficult to work, malaria killed many settlers and the superintendent, Alexander McDonell, proved incapable. In July, 1812, the colony was invaded by American militia who carried off its livestock. The remaining settlers ultimately moved back to higher land and in 1818 Selkirk sold his property.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board

PLAQUE #28


Location: In Bothwell, on the NE corner of Main Street and Elm Street

THE FOUNDING OF BOTHWELL 1855
In 1851 George Brown, founder of the Toronto Globe and one of Canada's Fathers of Confederation, purchased about 4000 acres in this vicinity. The Great Western Railway ran through his property in 1855 and that year a station and a post office were opened. He had the town plot of Bothwell surveryed and by 1857 Brown and others had established several industries. The new community prospered until affected by the general depression of 1857-58 but revived by 1861 when a local oil boom developed. Brown was thus able to sell his holdings in 1865-66 for well over $250,000. Bothwell became a town in 1866 with some 3,500 inhabitants. By 1868, however, the oil industry had faltered and only in recent years has the community resumed its growth.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario

PLAQUE #29


Location: On the north side of County Road 3 just east of Palmyra Road, street number 14303

THE HON. DAVID MILLS 1831-1903
A noted cabinet minister and jurist, David Mills was born in a house on the adjacent property, attended a local school, and studied law at the University of Michigan. Elected in 1867 to the Canadian parliament he sat as Liberal member for Bothwell until 1896, serving as minister of the interior, 1876-1878, in the Mackenzie administration, and minister of justice, 1897-1902, under Laurier. An expert in constitutional and international law, he wrote extensively on these subjects and lectured at the University of Toronto. In 1896 he was appointed to the Canadian Senate and in 1902 to the Supreme Court of Canada. He is buried in a nearby cemetery.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #30

Location: On the north side of King St. E. between Princess and Prince Sts., Chatham

THE ABOLITION MOVEMENT
IN BRITISH NORTH AMERICA
From 1783 until the 1860s, abolitionists in British North America took part in the fight to end slavery both at home and in the United States. Thanks to the determination of colonial officials, anti-slavery organizations, and the thousands of African Americans who took refuge in Upper and Lower Canada and the Maritimes during this period, the colonies became a centre of abolitionist activity, as evidenced by the convention held here at this church by John Brown in 1858. This struggle for human rights had a defining influence on African Canadian culture and helped shape Canada's values and institutions.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #31

Location: 425 Grand Avenue West, Chatham

DAVID MILLS
1831-1903
Born in Orford, Upper Canada, Mills served as Superintendent of Schools for Kent County (1856-65) before entering federal politics. He represented Bothwell in the House of Commons from 1867 until he was appointed to the Senate after his defeat in the general election of 1896. He was Minister of the Interior (1876-8) and Minister of Justice (1897-1902). From 1882 to 1887 he was chief editorial writer for the influential London Advertiser. He held a chair of constitutional law at the University of Toronto from 1888 until 1902 when he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. He died in Ottawa.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #32

Location: In a park on the NE corner of Wellington St. E. and Princess St. S., Chatham

DR. ANDERSON RUFFIN ABBOTT 1837-1913
Anderson Ruffin Abbott was born in Toronto in 1837. His parents, Wilson and Ellen Toyer Abbott, were free people of colour who came to Canada in 1835 in pursuit of economic advancement and social justice. Abbott was educated at the Elgin Settlement near Chatham, and then studied at the Toronto School of Medicine. He received his medical licence in 1861, becoming the first Canadian-born doctor of African descent. Upon completing his studies, Dr. Abbott became one of eight Black surgeons to serve in the Union Army during the American Civil War and served with distinction as the surgeon-in-chief at Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C. In 1871, he settled in Chatham, where he established a medical practice and served as president of the Wilberforce Educational Institute. He also became Kent County's first Black coroner, president of the Chatham Medical Society and associate editor of the Missionary Messenger, the official publication of the British Methodist Episcopal Church. Abbott eventually returned to Toronto. He is buried at the Toronto Necropolis.

Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario

PLAQUE #33

Location: Queen St. E. on the south side just east of St. George St. (Road 21), Dresden

FIRST REGULAR BAPTIST CHURCH, DRESDEN
The First Baptist Church of Dawn - established by former slaves and free African Americans in the 1840s - held its meetings in private homes, then in a log chapel at the British American Institute. In the 1850s, a Baptist congregation met on Main Street in Dresden, until a lot was purchased from parishioner George Johnson on the present site. A church was built by the congregation and the inaugural service of the First Regular Baptist Church was held on November 15, 1857. Reverends William P. Newman and Samuel H. Davis, the church's "founding fathers," were prominent abolitionists and former British American Institute headmasters. Newman raised much of the funding, and Davis oversaw the construction of the church, donating 100 cords of wood to pay for the sawing of the lumber, which forms the original structure of the chapel to this day. For generations, the church has been an integral part of community life in Dresden. Today, it stands as a testament to the faith, fortitude and determination of these early pioneers.

Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario

PLAQUE #34

Location: On the NE corner of St. George St. and St. John St., Dresden

HUGH BURNETT AND THE NATIONAL UNITY
ASSOCIATION
Between 1948 and 1956, the National Unity Association (NUA) of Chatham, Dresden and North Buxton, under the leadership of Hugh R. Burnett, waged a campaign for racial equality and social justice. Their efforts led to the passage of Ontario's Fair Employment Practices Act (1951) and Fair Accommodation Practices Act (1954), and laid the groundwork for subsequent human rights legislation in Ontario and across Canada. Traditional Anglo-Canadian rights, such as freedom of association and freedom of commerce, had historically been interpreted to permit discrimination on grounds of race, colour or creed in providing services to the public. The NUA inspired recognition of freedom from discrimination as a fundamental principle; this led to a revolutionary change to the course of Canadian law and Canadian history. Hugh Burnett and the NUA were early pioneers in the articulation of equality rights for all Canadians, now constitutionally inscribed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario

PLAQUE #35

Location: On the main floor inside the rear door of the Chatham-Kent Public Library
at the southwest corner of Queen Street and Cross Street, Chatham

JEAN McKISHNIE BLEWETT
1862-1934
Born at Scotia, Upper Canada, and educated at St. Thomas Collegiate Institute, Jean McKishnie was for many years a member of the staff of the Toronto Globe, continuing as an active journalist until 1925. Between 1897 and 1922 she published several volumes of poetry which was admired by her contemporaries "for the directness and simplicity of theme and form and for the occasional whimsical note". She died at Chatham, Ontario.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #36

Location: On the south side of Wellington St. W. between 5th Street South and Harvey St., Chatham

OLD ST. PAUL'S CHURCH & CHRIST CHURCH
With the assistance of local parishioners and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Reverend Richard Pollard began construction of St. Paul's Church in 1819. Located one kilometre from here on Stanley Street, St. Paul's was the first church in Chatham and the first Anglican church in Kent County, serving the local population which included members of the Black community and the British garrison. By the 1840s, the congregation had outgrown St. Paul's Church and purchased this site across from the town market in 1860. Christ Church was completed the following year and consecrated by Bishop Benjamin Cronyn. The congregation used St. Paul's as a mortuary chapel until 1869 when it was destroyed by fire. Christ Church remains an important part of the spiritual and cultural life of the community.

Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario

PLAQUE #37

Location: West of Chatham on Road 36 2 km west of Bloomfield Road at street number 7391

SKIRMISH AT McCRAE'S HOUSE
Following the defeat of the British at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813, American forces controlled the Thames Valley west of Moraviantown. In early December a detachment of 3 officers and 36 men of the American 26th Regiment established a post near here at the house of Thomas McCrae. Before daybreak on December 15, 1813, they were surprised by Lieutenant Henry Medcalf and 32 members from the Norfolk and Middlesex Militia, the Kent Volunteers and the Provincial Dragoons. After a brief resistance the Americans surrendered and were taken prisoner.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #38

Location: Just south of North Buxton, at 21979 A.D. Shadd Road (Road 6) 1.3 km south of 8th Line (Road 14)

THE BUXTON SETTLEMENT
From the shores of Lake Erie to the seventh concession, from Dillon Road on the east to Drake Road on the west, Buxton's ordered fields are dotted with churches and homes from the epic experience of the Underground Railroad. In 1849, Reverend William King arrived with fifteen former slaves at a 3600 ha tract of swampy, forested land. More refugees followed, buying and clearing 20 ha homesteads, establishing industries, churches and schools. The settlers created the regular pattern of roads and drainage ditches seen today, transforming the landscape into the prosperous Elgin Settlement, as it was then called, where neat cottages spoke of industry and thrift, and children received a classical education. Buxton lives on today through descendants of these determined immigrants who carved out a free life for themselves and their families on the tranquil plains of southwestern Ontario.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #39

Location: In a park on the NE corner of Wellington St. E. and Princess St. S., Chatham

THE PROVINCIAL FREEMAN
First published in 1853 in Windsor and later in Toronto and Chatham, the Provincial Freeman catered to abolitionists in British North America and the Northern United States. Its chief editor was Mary Ann Shadd, an African-American emigrant who arrived in Canada West in 1851. Guided by Shadd's commitment to anti-slavery issues, the paper advocated that "Self-reliance is the true road to independence". The Provincial Freeman championed temperance, social reform and African-American emigration to British North America, where slavery was outlawed in 1833. Well-known abolitionists such as Samuel Ringgold Ward, William P. Newman, H. Ford Douglass and Martin Delany, as well as siblings Isaac and Amelia Shadd, also lent their editorial voices to the paper during its run. Published until 1860, the paper successfully promoted Black political discourse and revealed the degree to which middle-class African-Canadian women participated in the public sphere.

Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario

PLAQUE #40

Location: On the NW corner of Road 6 and Road 8 in front of a church, Municipality of Chatham-Kent

WILLIAM KING
(1812-1895)
As an abolitionist who had owned slaves in the United States, Reverend William King made a unique contribution to the anti-slavery movement in British North America. His religious beliefs and humanitarian ideals inspired King in 1849 to found the Elgin Settlement, which grew to be the most successful planned community for African American refugees in Canada. A tireless leader, he worked to break down racial barriers by building links between this settlement and surrounding communities. King's work brought him both national and international acclaim, and focused attention on the fight to end slavery.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

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