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In the Light of Dawn - The History and Legacy of a Black Canadian Community

In the Light of Dawn

The History and Legacy of a Black Canadian Community

Paperback : 9781779400468, 368 pages, February 2025
Hardcover : 9781779400475, 368 pages, February 2025
Expected to ship: 2025-02-04
Expected to ship: 2025-02-04


Illuminating two hundred years of lost Black History through the lens of an iconic abolitionist settlement

In the Light of Dawn shares the compelling story of how the iconic Dawn Settlement—now largely within the boundaries of Dresden, Ontario— shaped (and was shaped by) a broader course of international events along a 200-year continuum of resistance and contribution. Using a geographic approach, the book reveals that the town’s size, scope, and importance eclipses its previous narrow interpretations as a “failed” utopian colony at a terminus of the Underground Railroad lead by the Reverend Josiah Henson (the “real Uncle Tom” of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s landmark anti-slavery novel).

Beyond Henson, Dawn’s history contains familiar figures like Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks as well as a pantheon of lesser known but equally important Black leaders including Dennis Hill, William Whipper, William Carter, and Hugh Burnett. The trajectories of Dawn’s residents often intersect with pivotal international events from the time of the fur trade to the modern Civil Rights movement. Activism from 19th-century Pennsylvania’s Black Elite and other major American centres run like a golden thread through successive generations in Dawn, resulting in landmark actions such as the challenge to segregation of private businesses and publicly funded schools. Dawn’s people not only resisted slavery and oppression but also made successful and lasting contributions to the growth of local communities and wider society.

Far from being a failed colony, the Dawn Settlement emerges as a vibrant community of racial and economic diversity, where people of agency and ability influenced wider societal change. In the Light of Dawn presents an expansive yet nuanced account of a small rural town that challenges traditional notions of Black History and the contributions of early Black pioneers, leaving behind an enduring legacy.