Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site - Ontario Heritage Trust


Due to COVID-19, Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site will be closed for the 2020 tourism season. We are creating new digital programming of our museum exhibits and capturing our story, which you can find by exploring here on the website. Please contact us by email at utchs@heritagetrust.on.ca for any inquiries.

Schools and educational tours

At Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, we offer a variety of interactive, exciting and thought-provoking educational programs for students. Designed in consultation with Ontario curriculum guidelines, our programs aid students in their understanding of the Underground Railroad movement. With a focus on Josiah Henson’s story, students will learn about the many contributions of peoples of African descent to Canadian culture and society. School groups receive an educational and interactive tour of Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site at a discounted rate. Please allow two hours for a complete tour. Depending on the class size, chaperones can tour
the site for free with the students. Please inquire at time of booking.

Book your tour today or inquire about tour availability by calling 519-683-2978.

Kindergarten through Grade 4

Duration of visit: 2 hours

Supplies: Provided by the museum

Maximum class size: 50 students

Illustrations, discussions and museum artifacts will introduce students to the Atlantic Slave Trade. Information covered includes: slave ships, auctions, plantation life and the cruel punishment to which enslaved people were subjected.

Students will learn how people used the Underground Railroad to escape the cruelty of slavery. Experience what it would be like to be “shipped” in a box – see a reproduction of the crate that Henry "Box" Brown used to “mail” himself to freedom. After the discussion, students will know the codes, disguises, methods of travel and the network of people involved in these dramatic and often dangerous escapes.

Henson's life story aids students’ understanding of slavery and escape. His accounts of slavery and his accomplishments as a free man in Canada demonstrate how personal faith and courage can overcome cruelty and racism. In freedom, Henson became the spiritual leader of the Dawn Settlement, a conductor of the Underground Railroad, the founder of the British American Institute (a vocational school for former enslaved people) and a source for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Site activities:

Survival secrets: Through the art of storytelling, an enslaved person’s quest for freedom is brought to life. The journey begins in Africa and ends in Canada through vivid stories and demonstrations. Students are given time to make a collage depicting a slave’s journey to freedom.

Free Spirit: This program is designed to stimulate the young imaginations of the students. It consists of interactive storytelling, where the students become characters in the story. Through movement and dance, the students tell an exciting story that takes them from slavery to freedom.

Grades 5 through 12

Duration of visit: 2 hours

Maximum class size: 48 students

"Freedom Pass" is an interactive educational activity designed to teach students about the accomplishments of Josiah Henson and his contributions to Canadian Black heritage. Students are introduced to the Underground Railroad and some of its key figures. Its secret mode of operation is brought to life, enabling the students to comprehend the risks and rewards in an enslaved person’s flight to freedom.

The activity works like a scavenger hunt, where students must work together in teams to decode secret messages in an attempt to find their freedom pass. The students work their way from station to station, gathering important information along the way, which they incorporate in oral presentations for their classmates.

Students use a number of communications skills during the activity to achieve their freedom: reading and arithmetic skills, following oral and written instructions, working and sharing with teammates, using available data to problem-solve and come to logical conclusions, writing skills (note-taking), and the ability to make presentations and report information orally.

Once all groups have found their freedom passes and finished their oral presentations, they receive a guided tour of the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site to solidify the inspiring story of Josiah Henson and his road to freedom.