Black history in Niagara is complex, with deep roots that encompass slavery as well as the people and events that pushed for freedom and gave safe haven as part of the Underground Railroad.
The Niagara Bruce Trail Club will lead a series of hikes exploring that history on four consecutive Fridays, starting on Feb. 11, to mark Black History Month.
Each 90-minute hike has a theme, ranging from the days of early slavery, to the early Black community in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the role of Black soldiers in the War of 1812, to important people and dramatic events that led to limits and ultimately the abolition of slavery.
These events transpired in centuries past, but we are surrounded by the echoes of those extraordinary individuals and events here in NOTL. People who walked where we walk, lived where we live and did business where commerce still hums today.
In the 1800s, there was a vibrant community of about 200 Black people who lived in an area known at the time as the “Coloured Village,” generally bounded north and south by William and Anne streets, and King to Butler Street.
The accompanying photos and captions highlight some of the many people and places the hikes will cover.
Go to the hike calendar to find the hike and contact the hike leader to register in advance. The hikes are likely to fill up and so the club may repeat the series in the fall.
The club also leads hikes through NOTL every Friday morning with different historical themes. Non-members are welcome to try a couple of hikes before deciding whether to join the club, which is run entirely by volunteers.
Further information on Black history in NOTL is also available through the Voices of Freedom Park website at vofpark.org.