fbpx

Honouring Oakville’s black community

Black Community Oakville
Honouring Oakville’s black community
Advertisement

On November 24, 2019 Town Councillors Ray Chisholm, Cathy Duddeck, and Natalia Lishchyna joined Andrew Tyrrell of the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton, and Lorraine Unett and Arlene Duncan, descendants of Jeremiah Adams, at Burnet Park for the unveiling of a heritage plaque entitled, Burnet Street and Oakville’s Black Community.

The plaque commemorates Oakville’s black history and community members. As an official Port of Entry into Canada, Oakville was one of the major destinations along the Underground Railroad and the first glimpse of freedom for many freed and escaped African-American slaves. The Underground Railroad saw over 40,000 African-American people migrating from the United States to Canada between 1850 and 1860 alone.

“It is an honour to celebrate Oakville’s vibrant black history and the legacy of the many African-American individuals who have contributed so much to the fabric of our community,” said Councillor Cathy Duddeck.

The plaque tells the story of Samuel Adams, who became a prominent member of Oakville’s black community after settling here in the early 1850s, and the history of the home that once sat at 104 Burnet Street, owned by Jeremiah Adams (Samuel’s son).

Samuel, a freed slave from Baltimore, moved to the Oakville area with his family in 1851. He established a successful blacksmith practice in Bronte and used his wealth to help other former slaves make a home for themselves in Upper Canada. He was also integral in the creation of the

Black Community

Turner African Methodist Episcopal Church at 37 Lakeshore Road West (just west of the 16 Mile Creek)Photo Credit: OakvilleNews.Org

Turner African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1891, which was a large part of Oakville’s black faith community and a hub of social activity.

Jeremiah was a dedicated member of the community who worked at the Chisholm family’s mill and volunteered at the church.

In 1909, Jeremiah and his wife Eliza purchased the home at 104 Burnet Street living there for nearly 40 years, raising five children together. Shortly after celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary, Jeremiah and Eliza both passed away in 1948. The home was left to one of their daughters, Nina Adams, and was then passed onto other members of the Wayner, Duncan and Skeete families – descendants of Jeremiah.

The home remained in possession of Jeremiah’s family and descendants for over 100 years before it was demolished in 2016.

In addition to the heritage plaque at Burnet Park, Oakville’s black history is also showcased through several permanent exhibitions at the Oakville Museum. Text from the Museum’s display panels can also be viewed on the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton’s website

Burnet Street and Oakville’s Black Community Plaque

Black Community Oakville Historical Plaque

“As an official Port of Entry into Canada, Oakville was one of the major destinations along the Underground Railroad and the first glimpse of freedom for many freed and escaped African American slaves. The Underground Railroad saw over 40,000 African American people migrating from the United States to Canada between 1850 and 1860 alone.

In 1851, Samuel Adams, a freed slave from Baltimore, moved to the Oakville area. He came with his wife and young family and set up a successful blacksmith practice iin Bronte. His subsequent invention of an implement used to lift flat stone from the bottom of Lake Ontario, know as a ‘stonehooker, made him a wealthy man. He used this wealth to help other former slaves make a life for themselves in Upper Canada.

Samuel Adams worked with his brother-in-law, Reverend William J. Butler, to organize a group of devout Black settler who, in 1891, laid the cornerstone for the Turner African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Church was not only a large part of Oakville’s Black religious community, but it also served as a hub of social activity. Samuel’s son, Jeremiah B. Adams, was a dedicated member of local society who worked aat the Chisholm brothers’ mill and volunteered at the Church.

Black Community Oakville 104 Burnet Street

Jeremiah & Eliza Adams Home – 104 Burnet Street, Oakville, Ontario; Photo Credit: Town of Oakville

In 1909, Jeremiah and his wife Eliza purchased a home at the southwest corner of Burnet and Kerr Streets. It was a two-storey stucco clad house where they raised four daughters and a son. Jeremiah and Eliza celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary together, both passing away shortly after in 1948. They left the house to their unmarried daughter Nina Adams. From Nina, the house passed to other decendants of Jeremiah Adams in the Wayner, Dunca, and Skeet families and remained in the possession of Jeremiah Adams decendants for over 100 years. The house was demolished in 2016 and stone from the foundation was salvaged for commemorative purposes.”

*Burnet Street runs parallel and south of Lakeshore Road West between Forsythe Street and Brookfield Road.

Tags:

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,