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York’s Underground Railroad

February 24, 2020 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Lansing United Church
Beecroft Rd & Poyntz Ave
Toronto, ON M2N 1K4
Free. Visitors welcome


Speaker: Guylaine Petrin 

In honour of Black History Month, Guylaine Petrin will give a special presentation on York County and the Underground Railroad. 

1910 store and delivery wagon

Elgin Mills, 1910

During the last 30 years, York county, especially Vaughan and Markham township have changed so much, transforming from their rural roots into urban landscapes and modern cities. Sometimes when all those changes take place, it is easy to forget one’s history. 

As part of the expansion and changes, there have been various archaeological assessment done on various sites along the Yonge Street corridor. In 1987 and 1989 two sites on Yonge Street, named by archaeologists the Murphy-Goulding, and the Bernard sites were excavated and searched for sites of archaeological significance. Other archaeological digs have also taken place, notably in 1995 where many artifacts dating from the 1850s and onward have been recovered. 

At the time, an old resident of Richmond Hill named George Goulding pointed out to the archaeologist a site associated with the Underground Railroad, a kind of hidey hole, where refugees were supposed to have hidden to escape slave catchers. Archaeologists did find the remains of a cabin, but the idea that somehow Richmond Hill was associated with the Underground Railroad was deemed “highly unlikely” 

Why on earth would escaped slaves find refuge in Richmond Hill? This presentation will address some of these questions, and also explain how genealogical tools can be used for fleshing out archeological questions. 

Guylaine Petrin, Toronto, is a Toronto librarian, genealogist and historical researcher who has numerous publications to her credit including,”The Myth of Mary Mink: Representation of Black Women in Toronto in Nineteenth Century” in Ontario History. Guylaine is a long-time member of Toronto Branch who specializes in Upper Canada history and York County.?   

Mini-presentation: Heather Ioannou: An Underground Railroad Extension? 

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