On My Way to Follow the North Star in Ontario
I’ll be following the North Star in Ontario next week and I couldn’t be more excited! No, it’s not another NASA thing I’m involved with it’s a travel blogger thing. I’m attending the Annual Travel Blog Exchange Conference (which means I’ve attended every North American #TBEX) in Toronto, June 1 and 2 and as a travel blogger, I’ll be joining my peers during a post-conference trip to learn more about Ontario.
Specifically, I’m heading to Chatham-Kent, located just less than a three-hour drive southwest of Toronto, to journey along a bit of the Underground Railroad, hence following the North Star to freedom.
If Things Were Different in School
My Western New York junior high offered a Canada Club to teach students about our neighbors to the north. The highlight of the organization, which made it extremely popular, was a trip to Toronto at the end of the year. Due to its popularity, admission to the club was by lottery and I wanted more than anything to get in because I had a true curiosity and interest in the country. But, it wasn’t meant to be and I didn’t make the club.
Perhaps if I had participated in the club, I would have already known about Canada’s connection to the Underground Railroad because before this opportunity arose, I had no clue. I thought New York was the northern terminus for freedom. I also had no idea Uncle Tom’s Cabin is located in Ontario! Ignorant me, I thought it was a U.S. site.
How Much Can You Pack into Two Days?
The 2-day trip is packed full of activities and includes a walking tour of Downtown Chatham and visit to the Kent Black Mecca Museum. Apparently, this was considered the “colored man’s Paris” back in the 1800s due in part to five black families who settled the village. It became a haven for runaway slaves.
Chatham-Kent will commemorate the 1812 Bicentennial of the War of 1812 this year and looks like I’ll be learning about the Battle of the Thames re-enactment, Tecumseh Parkway opening, “Rekindle Tecumseh’s Vision” 7 Day World Gathering Event, and the Archaeological Dig of Tecumseh Park with the Kentucky Militia. (Follow the 1812 Bicentennial on Twitter @1812southwest.)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
I’ll see for myself that Uncle Tom’s Cabin is in Ontario because the plan is to visit the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site and learn about Rev. Josiah Henson, the man whom Harriett Beecher Stowe based her main character in her novel. (Download a free Kindle copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin on Amazon). Rev. Henson founded the Dawn Settlement and the British American Institute, designed to teach skills to newly arrived immigrants.
Buxton National Historic Site & Museum
Following a soul food lunch (I never even heard of soul food until I moved to the Southeastern U.S.; oh what a sheltered life I’ve lived!), I’ll explore Buxton National Historic Site & Museum. Buxton is one of the oldest black settlements in Canada and the site includes a cemetery, log home and last remaining schoolhouse in Canada built by fugitive slaves.