celebrated black Canadians:
1. Long before Ben Johnson or Donovan Bailey, Harry Jerome was
Mr. Canada and the world's fastest man and one of our best-known
athletes despite an injury-prone career. Born in Prince Albert, Sask.,
and residing in Vancouver, he won a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympics,
and gold at the 1966 Commonwealth Games. His first world record was a
10-second flat 100-metre sprint.
2. Portia White was born in the town of Truro, Nova Scotia. She
went from singing in her father's African Baptist church choir as a
child to performing around the world as a concert singer. As a teacher
in rural Halifax schools, Ms. White was able to realize her potential
through support of Ladies' Musical Clubs and the Nova Scotia Talent
Trust. One of her last major appearances was at the 1964 opening of the
Charlottetown's Confederation Centre for the Arts, where Queen Elizabeth
II was in attendance.
3. The real McCoy was a black Canadian, born to escaped Kentucky slaves
in Colchester, Ont. in 1843. Despite having studied engineering in
Scotland, on his return to Canada, Elijah McCoy was unable to
find any job other than as a railway fireman. As a mechanic in the
1870s, he noticed that machines had to be stopped every time they needed
oil. Mr. McCoy invented a device to oil machinery while it was working,
and soon no engine or machine was considered complete until it had a
4. In 1857, William Hall
became the first Canadian sailor as well as first black Canadian to
receive the Victoria Cross. Born in Horton Bluff, N.S., he joined the
Royal Navy when only a teenager. He also was decorated for bravery
during the Crimean War.
5. John Ware's saddle, spurs and gun can be seen at Alberta's
Dinosaur Park, remembering one of the best cowboys of the late 1800s.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, he helped establish the Bar U Ranch in the
Northwest Territories, and his prowess at roping and trailbreaking
earned him a spot as a great cowboy.
6. Mary Ann Shadd was the first woman publisher in North America,
establishing the Provincial Freeman, an abolitionist newspaper, with
Rev. Ringgold Ward in 1853. Born in 1823 in Delaware, she moved to
Canada in 1851, where she opened an integrated school. After the
American Civil War she returned to teaching in the United States, and
became the first woman to enroll in Howard University law school.
7. Niagara Falls, Ont. was the birthplace of Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943),
a composer, conductor, and pianist. His education included an MA from
the Eastman School of Music, and time at Harvard. Mr. Dett's
compositions continue to be performed, most notably by the Nathaniel
Dett Chorale, a professional chamber choir devoted to performing
8. Josiah Henson is most famous for his characterization in
Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. Born to enslaved parents in
Maryland in 1789, he himself was a slave for 45 years until escaping to
Canada where he helped form the Dawn Settlement near Dresden, Ont.
9. The first ordained black woman minister in Canada was the Rev.
Addie Aylestock, who served British Methodist Episcopal churches for
over twenty years. She was born in Glenallen, Ont. but ministered in
Toronto, Halifax and Owen Sound.
10. George Bonga was a successful and famous voyageur, who spoke
French and several Native languages. He was said to have carried a load
of 750 pounds for a quarter of a mile; the average weight was 250.