Experience The Underground Railroad

February 4, 2018 | Rachelle

Comments (2)

In the 1850s and 1860s many people escaped from slavery to what is now known as Canada. The secret network of routes that they used was called the Underground Railroad. 

The Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad by Paul Collins - www.collinsart.org

Free blacks, white sympathizers and abolitionists helped guide, shelter and support fugitives as they sought freedom in a new land. Some historians estimate that as many as 30,000 fugitives used the "railroad" to escape their harsh reality in bondage. The short video below, created by Historica Canada, depicts the anguish that many freedom seekers experienced.

To keep these routes as safe as possible, many hidden terms and slave songs were used. Most of these terms were based on "railroad" metaphors, for example, guides were "conductors" and hiding places were "stations". These routes are shown below in the "Underground" Routes to Canada. This map and many more rare documents are located in the Baldwin Collection at Toronto Reference Library

Underground Railroad Routes to Canada

There are many programs taking place at the library to celebrate Black History Month including a unique experience on the "railroad". You can "travel" along the Underground Railroad with Down To Earth Education. By assuming the role of a freedom seeker, participants will see what it might have been like to travel along the secret network of routes. Learn about life on a plantation and the life and times of one of the most well known conductors of all, Harriet Tubman.

Black history month image

The Underground Railroad
Hillcrest Branch
Friday, Feb. 9, 1-2:30 pm

With Black History Month in full swing, there are so many events that you can attend for free at the library.

Check out a book on the Black History Month 2018 recommended reading list or peruse the Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection. With over 16,000 print and audiovisual materials, this collection has something for readers of all ages.

Staying in for the night? Then why not stream a new video for free through Kanopy? This new platform has thousands of videos to choose from including many about black history and culture. To learn more, check out our Getting Started Guide

Black History Month Kanopy