Emancipation Day commemorates August 1,1834 when the Slavery Abolition Act came into effect freeing over 800,000 Africans and their descendants across the British Empire. The act ensured Canada as a free territory for enslaved people from the U.S .
Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historical Site and Museum located at the Dawn Settlement in Dresden is named after the Harriet Beecher Stowe character in her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a 2 volume fictional book written in 1852. The Dawn Settlement was founded by Josiah Hensen after he escaped from slavery in Kentucky in 1830 and was the inspiration for Stowe’s novel. She was an active abolitionist. Her novel has been said to have had a profound effect on the Abolitionist Movement
This year’s event is special since the site and the museum will be renamed and the new name will be revealed at the ceremonies. According to the Ontario Heritage Trust, the name, Uncle Tom has become a symbol for anti-racism against blacks. The new name will highlight Josiah Hensen which is the real story at the Historical site since he was responsible for the founding of the settlement. Hensen was a minister and an author and after escaping from slavery returned many times to the south to free other. He published his autobiography, The life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an inhabitant of Canada, Narrated by Himself. The Dawn Settlement become a community for Black Canadians featuring a school to teach the inhabitants a trade as well as other skills. Cook, the site manager and the staff recognize Emancipation Day as a great opportunity to highlight Black Canadian Culture and the part Chatham-Kent played in that History.
Check out their website for a schedule of event. Take the family this weekend, enjoy the events and learn many of the fascination facts about Chatham-Kent