Ontario's Historical Plaques 

Discover Ontario's history as told through its plaques

2004 - Now in our 15th Year - 2019

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The Provincial Freeman

The Provincial Freeman

Photo by contributor Kevin Howard - June 2009

The Provincial Freeman

Photo from Google Street View ©2013 Google - Posted November, 2013

Plaque Location

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent
In Chatham, in a park on the northeast corner of
Wellington Street East and Princess Street South

Coordinates: N 42 24.323 W 82 10.400


Click here for a larger map

Plaque Text

First published in 1853 in Windsor and later in Toronto and Chatham, the Provincial Freeman catered to abolitionists in British North America and the Northern United States. Its chief editor was Mary Ann Shadd, an African-American emigrant who arrived in Canada West in 1851. Guided by Shadd's commitment to anti-slavery issues, the paper advocated that "Self-reliance is the true road to independence". The Provincial Freeman championed temperance, social reform and African-American emigration to British North America, where slavery was outlawed in 1833. Well-known abolitionists such as Samuel Ringgold Ward, William P. Newman, H. Ford Douglass and Martin Delany, as well as siblings Isaac and Amelia Shadd, also lent their editorial voices to the paper during its run. Published until 1860, the paper successfully promoted Black political discourse and revealed the degree to which middle-class African-Canadian women participated in the public sphere.

Another plaque at this location
Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott 1837-1913

Related Ontario plaque
Mary Ann Shadd Cary 1823-1893



Black History

Other Plaques in Chatham
The Abolition Movement in British North America
Chatham Blockhouse 1794
David Mills 1831-1903
Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott 1837-1913
Emily Ferguson Murphy 1868-1933
Jean McKishnie Blewett 1862-1934
John Brown's Convention 1858
Kent County Court House
Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893)
Mary Ann Shadd (Cary) (1823-1893)
Old St. Paul's Church & Christ Church

Chatham-Kent Plaques

Here are the visitors' comments for this page.

> Posted June 19, 2009
This plaque uses the term "African-Canadian", a curious phrase, and possibly a reaction to the use of "African-American". The latter does not refer to citizenship, but to continental associations. Since Canada is in America, it's curious why "African-Canadian" has been invented, when "African-American" might do as well, though, in the particular case, be less specific. In a sense, there is less legitimacy to use it when referring to the 1850s, when the only Canada that existed was a province. Is the term an attempt to link Africa with a single British colony? "African-Canadian" is also used in modern terminology, seemingly as an attempt to distinguish Blacks in the United States from those in Canada. But since it's a continental term, African-American could be used in many cases. Certainly when speaking historically, the case for its use is tenuous.

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