Chatham-Kent was a major part of the Underground Railroad and as such hosts the Buxton Homecoming each September on Labor Day Weekend.. This celebrates the area's black culture and the roots laid by early black settlers in the Buxton area. The population has diminished since the 19th century but many visitors with roots in that area return to this small community every year for the Annual Homecoming event. This year is the 100th anniversary so you can be sure it will be well attended.
During the 19th century, the area was the northern terminus of the Underground Railroad. As a result, Chatham-Kent is now part of the African-Canadian Heritage Tour.
Josiah Henson Museum for African-Canadian History, formally known as Uncle Tom’s Cabin Site is a museum of the Dawn Settlement, established in 1841 by Josia Hensen near Dresden as refuge for the many slaves who escaped to Canada from the United States. John Brown, the abolitionist, planned his raid on the Harper’s Ferry Arsenal in Chatham and recruited local men to participate in the raid. The small village of North Buxton, part of the African Canadian Heritage Tour, played an important role in the Underground Railroad. By the 1850s, the city of Chatham was referred to as the “Black Mecca of Canada". A museum in the city, the Black Mecca Museum, still bears this name.
The event starts Friday Sept 1/23 and runs for 4 days culminating with the Annual Labor Day Parade. The events are taking place at several locations in the village so check the updated schedule. There is something for everyone. You can enjoy the Vendors Market, participate or just enjoy watching the annual Baseball Tournament. There will be a beer tent, some re-enactments, face painting for the children, a zoo, a talent show and author Craig Shreve will be there to autograph his book, The African Samurai.
This years advertisement for the 100th Anniversary of the event includes a picture of a pear tree, paying homage to the Buxton Pear Tree which is located on the Robbins Family farm.
In 1924 this was the location of the first Buxton Homecoming Celebration which took place in connection with the Sunshine Club and the B.M.E.Church.