More than 150 years ago, the community of Canfield welcomed slaves fleeing the United States through the Underground Railroad, providing a safe haven and freedom. In September 2017, the Canfield Community Centre, Heritage Haldimand and Haldimand County collaborated on the installation of a marker honouring this history.
On Sunday, February 10, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. the community will come together again to celebrate Black History Month and the donors to this important project with a presentation by local historians Sylvia Weaver and Barbara Topp.
“This project has been a wonderful collaboration for us with the Canfield Community Centre and Haldimand County,” said Sylvia Weaver, Heritage Haldimand member and the volunteer project manager for this proposal. “From the time the County approved the request for this memorial, we have been overwhelmed by the response from people who either grew up in the area or had family who lived in Canfield during those times. From Niagara Region to Windsor and into the United States, we have been contacted by so many for whom this is a meaningful part of their personal family history,” said Weaver.
“We are so happy to have been able to formally recognize this important part of our local story,” added Weaver, “and we’re very excited to be able to come together again to share stories and celebrate the support which has been received.”
The Underground Railroad was a secret network organized by people who helped men, women and children escape from slavery to freedom. It operated before the Civil War (1861-1865) ended slavery in the United States. Black settlers first started coming to Canfield in 1837, with 137 black residents identified in the North Cayuga census by 1851.
The installation of the natural stone and plaque, recognizing Canfield as a ‘station’ within the Underground Railroad, was approved through the County’s Community Partnership Program—including almost $4,000 in grant funding—and saw almost $9,000 raised in the community.
“This is an incredible part of Haldimand County’s history,” said Ward 4 Councillor Tony Dalimonte, “and one which continues to engage residents and visitors to our community. The County was very happy to have been able to support Heritage Haldimand and the Canfield Community Centre in ensuring not only that we remember this important part of our local history but, in fact, formally recognize it and encourage everyone to learn about the wonderful community of Canfield.”
The event takes place Sunday, February 10 at 2:00 p.m. at the Canfield Community Centre; all are welcome to attend. Parking and seating are limited.