Free Emancipation Day event at the Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History

DRESDEN — The Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History is celebrating Emancipation Day with free admission. Join in the celebration at the museum on Saturday, July 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for educational and family-fun entertainment that will reflect on Black history and honour the strength and resilience of Black communities across Ontario. For more information ...

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, North Buxton and Dresden.

Since 2005, the Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History has celebrated Emancipation Day by bringing together historians, storytellers, artists and musicians for day-long activities that creatively explore Ontario’s Black heritage. This year, a southern barbecue lunch will also be available for purchase from the Chilled Cork Food Truck.

Emancipation Day at the Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History is supported by the RBC Foundation.

Speakers and performers

London Collective Gospel Choir

  • Enjoy uplifting musical selections that emphasize hope and unity through faith by the London Collective Gospel Choir.

Kwame Delfish

  • Hear from artist Kwame Delfish, the first Caribbean Canadian to design a coin for the Royal Canadian Mint. Delfish will speak about the creative process behind his design for the coin commemorating the No. 2 Construction Battalion — the largest all-Black battalion-sized unit in Canadian military history.

Motown Boys

  • Dance to the tunes of Diana Ross, The Temptations and top-40 Motown hits with live renditions by the musical group Motown Boys , featuring George St. Kitts, Toni Anderson and Kenni Hite.

Ruth Lor Malloy

  • Learn from Ruth Lor Malloy, a travel writer and activist. In the 1950s, she worked with the Toronto Joint Labour Committee for Human Rights to fight discrimination in Dresden. Malloy will talk about her book — Brightening My Corner: A Memoir of Dreams Fulfilled — and will host a book signing.

Chef Patience Chirisa

  • Fire up all your senses with Chef Patience Chirisa, a culinary expert in African cuisine. Chef Chirisa will provide a delectable selection of finger foods for guests to sample, host a book reading and signing, and deliver a fun arts-and-crafts activity for children.

Duane Gibson

  • Hear from D.O. Gibson, a two-time Guinness World Records-setting rapper, author and professional speaker. Gibson will be speaking on how Josiah Henson is a central part of his many performances, as it allows him to speak about slavery, the Underground Railroad, spirituals and about his dad’s portrayal of Josiah Henson in the Josiah Henson Museum’s interpretive video onsite.

About the Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History

The Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History is owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust. This two-hectare (five-acre) complex celebrates the life and work of Reverend Josiah Henson and explores the history of the Underground Railroad in Ontario. The museum provides a space to discuss the legacy of slavery and racism and the enduring pursuit for social justice. Visit to learn more.


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.