A few photo’s of the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historical Site, located just outside Dresden, Ontario, Canada. This, the Dawn Settlement, was one of the two planned black communities established in Canada to assist escaped slaves from the US. It was one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad and was founded by Josiah Henson, himself an escaped slave and who’s autobiography inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, hence the name of the site.
Unfortunately, her novel has become associated with negative stereotypes of black people, and granted some of it is true, and again, unfortunately this has taken away the fact that this novel was a powerful anti-slavery tool.
At its height, the Dawn Settlement had around 500 citizens, many drawn there for the vocational school, and the promise of an education. While Canada was not free of racial problems it did offer these people an opportunity to do well and make a life on their own, and abolitionists in the US used these settlements as examples to fight back against the racist theories used to defend slavery.
This site, and the larger Elgin Settlement didn’t survive for very long, life in the Canadian frontier was harsh and many settlements, regardless of race or ambition failed and disappeared regularly.