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Two important August days

The first weekend in August is a long one in Ontario. This year the calendar lets us celebrate two important days.

In Toronto, the first Monday in August is Simcoe Day, honouring John Graves Simcoe, Upper Canada’s first lieutenant governor. Simcoe is credited with the founding of Toronto, and other major steps in the colonization of Ontario. But let’s also remember his efforts to end slavery. The Act of 1793 Against Slavery was a compromise. It stopped the importation of enslaved persons, but not their sale across the border. And it freed the children of enslaved persons born in Upper Canada after 1793 at age 25, but not any of the more than 500 enslaved persons in Upper Canada.

August 1 is Emancipation Day, celebrating the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act that freed more than 800,000 enslaved people of African descent throughout the British Empire, including Canada, on August 1, 1834.

To learn more about slavery in Canada, a good place to start is Natasha Henry’s contribution to the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Man on horse leading parade through street.

Emancipation Day parade, Amherstburg Ontario, 1894. Library and Archives Canada/PA-163923, Item ID number 3227511.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no Emancipation Day parades this year, but there are many virtual celebrations. The Ontario Heritage Foundation and Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site are hosting a week of commemorative events.  Owen Sound and area residents have held an annual  Emancipation Day festival for almost a century and a half, and are planning a special digital program this August 1. And the Archives of Ontario website has online exhibits you can browse on Enslaved Africans in Upper Canada and The Black Canadian Experience in Ontario 1834-1914: Flight, Freedom, Foundation

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Toronto Branch Meetings

Apr
26
Mon
7:30 pm Stories of Plymouth Plantation
Stories of Plymouth Plantation
Apr 26 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Stories of Plymouth Plantation @ WEBINAR | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
FAMILY LIFE IN THE ARCHIVES: THE STORIES OF PLYMOUTH PLANTATION The surviving information about Plymouth Plantation was not produced to help us understand family life: those records (whether publications describing early Plymouth like Good Newes[...]
Jun
28
Mon
7:30 pm Hiding Out in the Open
Hiding Out in the Open
Jun 28 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Hiding Out in the Open @ WEBINAR | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
HIDING OUT IN THE OPEN: DISCOVERING LGBT FAMILY HISTORY You may have heard family stories about an relative who was “different” or perhaps you’ve discovered someone who simply “disappeared.” Have you considered the possibility that[...]

Courses starting & Workshops

Apr
21
Wed
7:00 pm Many Stories of Toronto: Online
Many Stories of Toronto: Online
Apr 21 @ 7:00 pm – Apr 29 @ 8:30 pm
Many Stories of Toronto: Online @ FOUR 1-HOUR WEBINARS | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
THE MANY STORIES OF TORONTO: FREE ONLINE LECTURE SERIES The journeys, experiences and history of Torontonians and our Toronto ancestors are immensely varied. This April, we invite you to join us for a special four-part[...]
May
13
Thu
2:00 pm Legacy Family Tree Software
Legacy Family Tree Software
May 13 @ 2:00 pm
Legacy Family Tree is a full featured genealogy software program. Geoff Rasmussen will present an overview of the software, highlighting the many rich features it offers, including charts and reports. Speaker: Geoffrey D. Rasmussen is[...]
Jun
16
Wed
7:00 pm Uncovering Unusual Lives
Uncovering Unusual Lives
Jun 16 @ 7:00 pm – Jun 24 @ 3:30 pm
UNCOVERING UNUSUAL LIVES: FOUR CASE HISTORIES This June, we invite you to join us for a special four-session lecture series. In Uncovering Unusual Lives, four seasoned researchers explore the stories of intriguing and uncooperative subjects.[...]
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