--February 28, 2017.
On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, the Montreal office of Canadian Heritage held an exhibition and lecture event at the Guy-Favreau Centre in Montreal. This activity was named "A Look Back through Black History in Canada."
Dr. Dorothy Wiiliams, an experienced historian and published author, of Montreal’s Black community (and a QAHN director) gave an overview of the long story of Blacks in Montreal. Her topic ranged from the rarely mentioned (in standard history books) days of eighteenth century slave owning in New France and during the subsequent British regime when having a Black slave was considered a ‘luxury item” for upper class households, to the era of the Underground Railway, then on to the period from the 1870s of the employment of Black porters on the actual railways, to the 1920s jazz clubs, and right up to the present day.
Black Montrealers can trace their roots to the Loyalists and to other Americans – and many more by way of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Caribbean, and most recently, Africa. This is a diverse community, very multicultural and multilingual. Preceding Dorothy Williams was a fascinating presentation in French from Marjorie Villefranche about Montreal’s Haitian community – again, a diverse group that has had connections to Quebec since the end of the French colonial period in Haiti.
The exhibition, called "On the Road North – Black Canada and Journey to Freedom," on the ground level plaza of the Guy-Favreau Centre, was a series of large, illustrated panels that touched on many aspects of the Black experience in Canada in general, with some references to Montreal.