In recognition of Black History Month and Simcoe County’s own Black Heritage, the Huronia chapter is pleased welcome Dr. Karolyn Smardz Frost to speak at our February 27th members meeting.
Our meeting will be held at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre, Midland starting at 7: PM.
Our meetings are open to the general public at no charge.
|Black church in Oro township|
Karolyn Smardz Frost
Both an archaeologist and an historian, Karolyn Smardz Frost explores North America's rich African American and African Canadian heritage and specializes in studying and teaching the Underground Railroad in the Great Lakes basin. She is an adjunct professor at both Acadia and Dalhousie Universities, and is consulting historical archaeologist for the Cataract House hotel excavations in Niagara Falls, New York.
She is also an accomplished author of lively and intriguing narrative non-fiction. In 2007 Karolyn won the Governor General's Award for I've Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad. Her co-edited A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland (2016), won the Historical Society of Michigan Book Award.
Karolyn's newest volume, Steal Away Home (HarperCollins Canada 2016) tells the story of Cecelia Jane Reynolds, who at the age of fifteen fled her Kentucky by way of the Cataract House hotel at Niagara Falls NY. Reaching Toronto she learned to write and began a correspondence with Fanny, the woman who had once owned her body, asking the price of her own family's freedom. Thus began a twenty-year correspondence between a freedom-seeker and her former mistress that has no parallel in the annals of American slavery.
A finalist for the Atlantic Book and Heritage Toronto Awards, Steal Away Home won the Speaker's Award for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the J.J. Talman Award for the best book in Ontario history over the past three years. The most exciting news yet is that Steal Away Home has been optioned for a five-part mini-series by Conquering Lion Pictures, which produced the Book of Negroes for television! Karolyn will speak about the archaeology of the Underground Railroad, and tell the tale of not one but two excavations illuminating the life of freedom-seeker Cecelia Jane Reynolds.
As to Oro townships historic site that relates to African Canadian History, perhaps it is time to launch an effort to determine who is buried in the graves on the plot of land surrounding the church. We know that there are graves there (not sure how many) that do not appear to have markers and I think that it would be nice to be able to do our best to determine who and how many people are buried there and create a suitable commemorative marker to them. I know that a CRM company did some work on the site when the building was last worked on and I do believe that they found some indicators of graves on the property. Their contract however did not include a full archaeological assessment of the property so they did not dig any deeper into the graveyard question. I wonder what would be involved in moving such a project forward and could the chapter help initiate such a project?
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