TECUMSEH, ON, Sept. 25, 2015 /CNW/ - Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust in partnership with the Town of Tecumseh unveiled a provincial plaque to commemorate The Banwell Road Area Black Settlement.
The unveiling took place at McAuliffe Park in Tecumseh.
The English plaque reads as follows:
THE BANWELL ROAD AREA BLACK SETTLEMENT
Beginning in the 1830s, at least 30 families fleeing enslavement and racial oppression in the United States settled in the Banwell Road area in Sandwich East. They had the opportunity to purchase land through two Black-organized land settlement programs – the Colored Industrial Society (a mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Sandwich East) and the Refugee Home Society (administered by Black abolitionist Henry and Mary Bibb of Maidstone). Freedom and land ownership meant self-determination and financial security. Settlers purchased 10- or 25-acre parcels of land to build homes and farms. The A.M.E. church held 25 acres in trust to construct a church and a school – and for a burial ground at the site, namely, the Smith family cemetery – located here. These families created a strong sense of community by establishing institutions and advocating for social justice. The Banwell Road Area Black Settlement contributed to the history, economy and culture of the region, and paved the way for their descendants to live fulfilled, free lives.
"The Ontario Heritage Trust is honoured to commemorate The Banwell Road Area Black Settlement. The settlement was a haven for freedom-seeking and free Black men and women. They established themselves in planned communities where they bought land and built homes and farms. Above all, the settlement provided refugees with security, community and control of their own destinies."
– Thomas H.B. Symons, Chairman, Ontario Heritage Trust
"The Banwell Road area Black settlers played an important role in the development of Sandwich and its surrounding areas. They built thriving family farms and pursued occupations that attracted new settlers to the area. Their labour and vision of freedom and equality enriched the growth of the region, the province and the nation."
– The Honourable Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
- The provincial plaque will be permanently displayed at the Smith Cemetery on Banwell Road in the Town of Tecumseh.
- The Ontario Heritage Trust's Provincial Plaque Program commemorates provincially significant people, places and events in Ontario's history.
- Since 1956, over 1,250 provincial plaques have been unveiled.
The Ontario Heritage Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's heritage.
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SOURCE Ontario Heritage Trust
For further information: About the Ontario Heritage Trust and the Provincial Plaque Program, contact Rose Windy Manigat at 416-325-5032 or [email protected]