New Lucie and Thornton Blackburn Conference Centre at George Brown College student residence named after 1830s pioneers in Toronto's Black Community

TORONTO, Nov. 9, 2016 /CNW/ - George Brown College announced today the new Lucie and Thornton Blackburn Conference Centre at their student residence, The George.

Lucie and Thornton Blackburn settled in Toronto in the 1830s after fleeing slavery in the United States via the Underground Railroad. As community leaders, philanthropists and anti-slavery activists, the Blackburns also started Toronto's first taxi-cab company and were among the founders of the Trinity Church on King Street. Their family home was once located just across the street from the conference centre now named in their honour.

 "We are delighted to be honouring the important legacy of Lucie and Thornton Blackburn at our new conference centre," remarked Anne Sado, President of George Brown College. "The Blackburns were contemporaries of our namesake, George Brown, and together worked on anti-slavery initiatives. In many ways, their story mirrors our own commitment to supporting the aspirations of a remarkably diverse student body by instilling in them the values of entrepreneurship, activism and leadership."

Located adjacent to the college's first student residence at Front and Cherry Streets in Corktown, the Lucie and Thornton Blackburn Conference Centre is open for bookings, featuring over 4,500 square feet, capacity for 217 people seated in a table format and a bar pre-function space as well as two separate meeting lounges.

 "This is a proud moment for all of us. The Blackburns' story teaches people of all backgrounds the values of courage and determination. The mural is a beautiful vehicle to share this narrative and the Conference Centre a collaborative space to promote the exchange of ideas." said, Nikki Clarke, President of the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS).

For 49 years, George Brown College has woven itself into of the fabric of Toronto, celebrated its history and contributed as a partner in its success. These close ties with the community led to the dedication of the new conference centre to the Blackburn family and their legacy.

The project quickly evolved to include educational activities, artifact exhibits, theatrical performances, a panel discussion and the creation of an interactive mural - designed by three George Brown students - that tells the compelling Lucie and Thornton Blackburn story. A listing of events and activities are listed below, including an Open House for the public on November 10 from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

George Brown College and the Ontario Black History Society would like to thank the following sponsors and donors who made The Lucie and Thornton Blackburn Conference Centre a reality:

City of Toronto
Government of Canada
Urban Capital
Denham Jolly
Allan Slaight
The William and Nona Heaslip Foundation
Campus Living Centre

Opening Day Activities: November 9, 2016

10:00 am-2:00 pm: school tours, mural exhibit and performance, The Bus Tour
6:00 pm- 9:00 pm- Grand Opening (by invitation only, open to media)
6:15 pm: Ribbon Cutting
6:45 pm: Seating & Opening Remarks
7:00 pm: Blackburn Artifact Speaker
7:30 pm: Dinner
8:00 pm: Theatrical Performance: The Bus Tour
8:30 pm: Closing Remarks & Blackburn Band Performance

November 10, 2016: Open House at the Blackburn Conference Centre
3:00 pm-4:00 pm: Meet Mural Artists (drop-in)
4:30 pm-5:10 pm: Karolyn Smardz Frost- tells the Blackburn story and an overview of the archeological dig.
5:30 pm: Artist chat with Charmaine Lurch
6:00 pm; Panel discussion
7:00 pm: Theatrical Performance, The Bus Tour

About George Brown College 

Toronto's George Brown College has established a reputation for equipping students with the skills, industry experience and credentials to pursue the careers of their choice. The college offers programs from its three campuses located across the downtown core, and provides housing at its student residence, The George, which opened in Sept. 2016. George Brown offers 152 full-time programs and 243 continuing education certificates/ designations across a wide variety of professions to a student body of nearly 29,000 (full-time enrolment) students, including 15 per cent international students; and over 66,000 continuing education registrants. Students can earn certificates, diplomas, postgraduate certificates, apprenticeships and degrees. 

SOURCE George Brown College

For further information: Joyann Callender, Media Relations Manager, George Brown College Ontario, 416-415-5000 ext. 3159,; Michele-Ann Halsall, Manager, Ontario Black History Society, 416-867-9420,


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