Plaque to Underground Railroad

We hope you will be able to join us for at 11:30 a.m. on November 19, 2019, at The Logan Residences, 899 Queen Street East. The Leslieville Historical Society and The Daniels Corporation will unveil a plaque recognizing the Underground Railroad and the families who made their way to freedom, forming a black community here from the early 19th century.

Here is the wording of the plaque:

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman (1822-1913)

Many families came to Toronto in the1800s to escape slavery, violence and oppression in the American South. They courageously followed the dangerous path to freedom via the Underground Railroad and some settled here, near the corner of Queen Street East and Logan Avenue. While a few returned south after the Civil War (1861-1865), many remained, helping to forge the identity of Leslieville today.

This plaque commemorates these families: the Barrys, Cheneys, Dockertys,Harmons, Johnsons, Lewises, Sewells, Whitneys, Wilrouses, Winders, Woodforksand others who came here from Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia and other States.


In 1793 Upper Canada passed law banning the import of slaves (first such law in British Empire (9 July). The Abolition Act decreed slave children born in Upper Canada from this day forward are to be freed when they are 25. In the 1840s and 1850s a series of American court decisions and laws tightened slavery’s grip and made escape even more dangerous. Increasingly, refugees from slavery headed to Canada, many using the secret network known as The Underground Railroad, but most travelling alone or in small family groups with no help from anyone, using the Northern Star to guide their way.

By the mid-1860s 60 to 75 black people lived here, out of a population of Leslieville’s population of about 350. We honor their contributions to our community where their descendants still live and work today.

Published by Leslieville Historical Society

Welcome to the Leslieville Historical Society's website. Please feel free to join us, to ask questions, to attend walking tours and other events, and to celebrate Leslieville's past while creating our future. Guy Anderson, President, Leslieville Historical Society and Joanne Doucette, local historian and webmaster.

4 thoughts on “Plaque to Underground Railroad

  1. I would have loved to attend, but have a conflict. I knew the descendants of several of the families who are referred to in this plaque. There remains so much to learn, share and commemorate! Thanks to the Leslieville Historical Society and the Daniels Corporation for affirming the past towards our future. As a past president of the Ontario Black History Society, I fully appreciate all that went into making this symbolic gesture, a reality. Congratulations!!

  2. I came across the article on CBC this afternoon and am sorry I did not know about this sooner. It would have been an honour to be able to join this special occasion. Please keep me updated. There is so much more to learn. Congratulations to your team!!

    1. I will be posting material that was used in researching this so that everyone has access. No one owns history and anything we can do to uncover buried treasure we will do…and this is treasure!

  3. I would like to know who painted the picture above and when it was painted. I just listened to a wonderful radio broadcast about Thorton and Lucie(Rutha) Blackburn and their escape into freedom from Kentucky to Toronto. That had me searching for more information and I found your website. The painting is lovely and I would like to know more about it too. Thank you.

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