Celebrate Emancipation Day on July 30 at Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site

DRESDEN – The Ontario Heritage Trust’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site welcomes the public back for in-person Emancipation Day celebrations. The program of events will celebrate Black history and heritage in the province through musical performances and special guest speakers – Free admission, Saturday, July 30.

Emancipation Day commemorates the Abolition of Slavery Act, which became law on August 1, 1834. This act freed more than 800,000 people of African descent throughout the British Empire. Since then, Emancipation Day has been celebrated on or near August 1 each year. It is an important expression of identity for many Black communities and a reminder of the continuing struggle faced by people of African descent toward a more inclusive, equitable society.

The day is especially popular in communities where refugees from American slavery settled – most notably Windsor, Toronto, Hamilton, Owen Sound as well as Dresden, Ontario.

Emancipation Day program schedule:

Amaria Phillips, poet
10:40 a.m. and 1:45 pm.

Hear from Amaria Phillips, co-founder and President of Concordia University’s Black Student Union, who will present original works of poetry.

Tracy Cain, gospel musician
10:50 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Listen to fifth-generation Black Canadian and gospel musician Tracy Cain, whose warm, smooth vocal stylings are influenced by gospel, jazz and R&B.

Terrence Vick
11 a.m.

Terrence Vick, the great-great-grandson of Reverend Josiah Henson, will bring remarks on behalf of the Henson family.

Kwame Delfish, artist
11:15 a.m. and 1:50 p.m.

Learn about Kwame Delfish and the creative process behind his design of the 2022 Black History Month commemorative coin commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mint.

Susan Cooke Soderberg, public historian and writer
11:35 a.m.

Gain insight into the research that went behind author Susan Cooke Soderberg’s upcoming biography The Real Josiah Henson: One Man's Journey from Enslavement to Celebrity.

Heritage Singers Canada
11:55 a.m. and 2 p.m.

A crowd favourite, take in a performance from the Heritage Singers Canada, who will return to Emancipation Day to conduct a musical journey from slavery to freedom.

An Enduring Dawn: Dresden’s Black Presence since the 19th Century
All day

Explore a photographic exhibit highlighting the role people of African descent have played in the early development of the town of Dresden.

Culture Craft
10 a.m. to Noon

Join a family-friendly arts activity for all ages.

This year’s Emancipation Day event will be livestreamed. For more information about the program of events and how to join online, visit the event page.

Special announcement: Reclaiming Josiah Henson and renaming Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site
Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic is changing its name. On July 30, during Emancipation Day celebrations, the Ontario Heritage Trust will unveil the new name for the museum. For this special announcement, visitors will hear from descendants of Reverend Josiah Henson. Reverend Terrence Vick, the great-great-grandson of Josiah Henson, will bring remarks on behalf of the Henson family. Learn more about the reasons for upcoming name change at

Quick facts

  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site is owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust. This two-hectare (five-acre) complex celebrates the life and work of Reverend Josiah Henson, a Person of National Historic Significance, and tells the stories of Ontario’s early Black settlements.
  • Rev. Josiah Henson was a celebrated abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor. He escaped slavery in the United States, fleeing to Upper Canada with his family in 1830, where he helped to establish the Dawn Settlement at what is now Dresden. Harriet Beecher Stowe used “concepts and incidents” from Josiah Henson’s memoirs in the defense of her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.


For more information about the Ontario Heritage Trust, contact Patricia Njovu at 437-248-1439 or

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About the Ontario Heritage Trust

The Ontario Heritage Trust (the Trust) is an agency of the Government of Ontario. The Trust conserves, interprets and shares Ontario’s heritage. We conserve provincially significant cultural and natural, tangible and intangible heritage, interpret Ontario’s history, celebrate its diversity and educate Ontarians of its importance in our society. The Trust envisions an Ontario where we conserve, value and share the places and landscapes, histories, traditions and stories that embody our heritage, now and for future generations.