Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History

29251 Freedom Road (formerly Uncle Tom's Road), Dresden, Ontario N0P 1M0 [map]
Telephone: 519-683-2978


The Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History sits just west of the town of Dresden. Take Highway 401 east from Windsor/Detroit to Exit 101, or Highway 401 west from Toronto to exit 101. Follow Kent Bridge Road north to Highway 21. Take Highway 21 north to Dresden. Head west on Park Street to Freedom Road (formerly Uncle Tom's Road). The museum is south on Freedom Road. Please visit the museum website for more detailed directions.



Recognized internationally for his contribution to the abolition movement, Rev. Josiah Henson – an escaped slave from Kentucky – quickly attained the status of leader within the Underground Railroad community of southwestern Ontario. In 1841, he co-founded the British American Institute, a vocational school for Underground Railroad refugees. The Dawn Settlement, comprised of mostly Black settlers, grew around the school.

Residents of the settlement farmed, attended the Institute and worked at saw mills, gristmills and other local industries. Some returned to the United States after emancipation was proclaimed in 1863. Others remained, however, contributing to the establishment of a significant Black community in this part of the province.

Harriet Beecher Stowe referred to Josiah Henson's memoirs, published in 1849, for her novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Henson's dramatic experiences and his connection with Stowe's book made him one of the most famous Canadians of his day.

This five-acre site includes an interpretive centre – featuring the exhibit I'll Use My Freedom Well – three historic buildings, including Rev. Henson's last dwelling, two cemeteries, extensive artifacts and a gift shop.

Henson was designated a figure of national historic significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1999.