Josiah worked temporarily on farms as a general labourer in Fort Erie and Niagara before relocating to Colchester Township, where he founded a temporary settlement for black refugees. During this period Henson was taught how to read by one of his young sons who had been educated in Canada. He also began to preach locally about the values of farming, owning land and British patriotism. Through his work, Henson helped to bring over 100 slaves to freedom in Canada West.

In 1842, with the assistance of Hiriam Wilson and Quaker abolitionists, Henson helped to establish a fugitive slave settlement in Dawn Township. The British-American Institute, a manual labour school, was also built on the settlement. Henson's life is believed to be the inspiration behind the main character of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Josiah Henson died on May 5th, 1883.

*Hill, Daniel G. The Freedom Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada. Agincourt, Canada: The Book Society of Canada Ltd., 1981.

Go Back