Wilberforce Settlement, The

In 1829, a group of free Blacks from Cincinnati, Ohio set out for Biddulph Township in Upper Canada with a bold vision: to establish an organized colony where they could enjoy freedom, self-determination and equality. They were joined by African Americans from New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and other places. Settlers purchased 323 hectares (800 acres) of land from the Canada Company, aided by a group of Ohio Quakers, and named it after British abolitionist William Wilberforce. By 1832, there were 32 families, a sawmill and two schools, Baptist and Methodist congregations, a temperance society, a blacksmith, shoemaker and tailor. Because the number of settlers was much smaller than originally planned, and due to the unwillingness of Canada Company agents to sell them more land, the colony did not expand. Many of its leaders left by the 1840s. A core group remained, however, and their descendants continued to live in the area into the 21st century. Through land ownership, hard work, education and legal equality, these freedom pioneers struck a blow at American oppression and carved a path for others to follow.


On the side porch of the town hall, 179 Main Street, in the area of the former settlement, Lucan

Region: Southwestern Ontario

County/District: County of Middlesex

Municipality: Township of Lucan Biddulph