Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893) Underground Railroad


Buxton National Historic Site and Museum
21975 A.D. Shadd Road North Buxton, Ontario N0P 1Y0

Mary Ann Shadd (1823–93), the first black woman known to have edited a North American newspaper. Her antislavery newspaper, The Provincial Freeman, was published weekly for seven years championing women’s rights, education for all, and black emancipation. Born in Delaware, Shadd was the eldest of thirteen children, who moved with her family to southwest Ontario in her early twenties to teach school in Windsor. She resisted segregation and relocated to Chatham, ON, to start her newspaper and worked to develop the first integrated school in Canada. She believed every individual had the capacity for success through opportunity, education, and self-reliance. Shadd moved back to the U.S. after the Civil War to earn a law degree. Her father, Abraham Doras Shadd, a shoemaker and a “conductor” on the secret Underground Railroad, hid, fed and clothed escaping slaves. Later he became one of the first black Canadians elected to political office. Buxton, Ontario was a key stopping point on what is known as southwestern Ontario’s Black Heritage Route and the Buxton Museum houses Mary Ann Shadd’s printing press. The route celebrates the history of the Underground Railroad, which was an informal network of secret routes and safe houses used to help as many as 100,000 people escape slavery and oppression in the southern United States between 1840 to 1860. About 30,000 slaves came to Canada. The Black Heritage Route starts at Amherstburg, south of Windsor, where many Blacks crossed the Detroit River into Canada.


Library and Archives Canada: Mary Ann Shadd Cary: Pioneer Newspaperwoman, Antislavery Activist, and Leader of the Emigration Movement to Canada. By: Adrienne Shadd

Breaking the Ice: The Mary Ann Shadd Story

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