Peterborough Chapter - Stealing Away Home: Archaeology and the Underground Railroad in Ontario

  • February 26, 2019
  • 7:00 PM
  • Lions Centre, Burnham Street

Topic: Stealing Away Home: Archaeology and the Underground Railroad in Ontario

Speaker: Dr. Karolyn Smardz Frost

The Peterborough Chapter of theOntario Archaeological Society and The Peterborough Historical Society are pleased to announce a joint public presentation in recognition of Black History Month:

The presentation, by noted historian and archaeologist Dr.Karolyn Smardz Frost, will acknowledge and bring recognition to the history of Underground Railroad sites in Ontario. Her topic is "Stealing Away Home: Archaeology and the Underground Railroad in Ontario." This event will take place at the Lions Centre on Burnham Street on February 27th at 7 pm.

Both an archaeologist and an historian, Karolyn Smardz Frost explores our nation's rich African Canadian heritage, and specializes in studying and teaching about Canada's role as the main terminus of the Underground Railroad. She is an adjunct professor at both Acadia and Dalhousie Universities, and is also an accomplished author of lively and intriguing narrative non-fiction. In 2007 Karolyn won the Governor General's Award for I've Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad. 

Karolyn's newest volume, Steal Away Home (HarperCollins Canada 2016) tells the story of Cecelia Jane Reynolds, who at the age of fifteen fled her Kentucky by way of the Cataract House hotel at Niagara Falls NY. Reaching Toronto she learned to write and began a correspondence with Fanny, the woman who had once owned her body, asking the price of her own family's freedom. Thus began a twenty-year correspondence between a freedom-seeker and her former mistress that has no parallel in the annals of American slavery. The most exciting news yet is that Steal Away Home has been optioned for a five-part mini- series by Conquering Lion Pictures, which produced the Book of Negroes for television! 

Karolyn's work on this book was informed by her access to the archaeological site of Cecelia's 19th century home in Toronto. Infrastructure Ontario and Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants uncovered the foundation on Centre Street during work on the massive project to excavate St. John's Ward before construction of the new provincial courthouse. Copies of Karolyn's book will be available for sale. 

This presentation is part of the Peterborough Chapter’s monthly Public Speakers Series, conducted with the support of the City of Peterborough and the Trent University Archaeological Centre. Members of the public are invited. There is no charge. Light refreshments are served. For further information contact the chapter secretary, Dirk Verhulst, at dverhulst@cogeco.ca.

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