The United Empire Loyalists of Canada - Bicentennial Branch (Southwestern Ontario)
Regular Branch Meeting
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"If you don't know where you came from you probably don't know where you are going." This quote was shared by our guest speaker Trisha Bray of her father Melvin Simpson, founder of the North American Black Historical Museum in Amherstburg, Ontario.

We were particularly pleased to have Trisha join us November 3, 2007 after meeting her during the 2007 UELAC Dominion Conference in Windsor, Ontario. The NABHM was one of the sites included in the historic tour of Amherstburg. Two Loyalist rose bushes were planted at the museum in June of this year following the conference.

Amherstburg’s North American Black Historical Museum, the first of its kind in Canada, preserves much of the history recorded in this area. The first Blacks recorded in Amherstburg came with the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists beginning in 1784. Some were the slaves of loyalists, such as the 60 owned by Matthew Elliot while others such as James Robertson and James Fry were themselves granted land for their defence of the British Empire. By 1828 there were 100 Blacks living in Malden and Amherstburg.

The museum remains a work in progress for there is much of the town’s Black history hidden among the keepsakes and records of the descendants of the founders. One area of research is the identification of the descendants of the very earliest settlers - those who arrived as slaves and those who came as United Empire Loyalists.

Bernice Flett and Ken Fitchett were on hand to make a special presentation to Trisha of two pen and ink prints of the Black History Museum drawn by Jane Hughes of London and Western Ontario Branch. Bicentennial Branch was happy to present a donation to the North American Black Historical Museum to ensure that the research and preservation of Black history in Essex County continues.

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