Local archivist hopeful Emancipation Day uncovers Canada’s history

Shannon and Bryan Prince. (Photo courtesy of Buxton National Historic Site)

In the first year since the Canadian government marked August 1 as Emancipation Day, the curator at Buxton National Historic Site and Museum says it’s been a long time coming.

Shannon Prince with Buxton National Historic Site and Museum was overwhelmed with joy when MPs in the House of Commons unanimously voted on March 24, 2021, to designate Emancipation Day across Canada.

“It’s time to tell the complete history that includes slavery,” said Prince. “It’s really about recognizing our Canadian history. It’s [slavery] a big part of that narrative that’s not completely told.”

Emancipation Day commemorates the abolishment of slavery by the British Empire, which took place on August 1, 1834.

“Even though it didn’t eradicate slavery or racism and it seems that we are in some instances seeing some of the aspects and outcomes of the history that has been neglected,” said Prince.

Prince said she believes that many people may still be unaware of the holiday being celebrated across Ontario.

“When we were young, we would go to Windsor for celebrations and that was a highlight of our summer,” said Prince. “We need to get back to that.”

On Monday, July 26, the historic site will be reopening its doors to the public for daily tours.

According to Josh Shreve, a student tour guide, the museum has been out of operation for nearly a year, shifting its focus to an online presence.

“It’s been a lot of fun, it’s a great way to engage with a younger audience,” said Shreve.

The museum will be open Monday to Sunday, with tour time slots at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,  and 2:30 p.m. Tours will last approximately 50 minutes and can include up to ten people.

“Some people would say the museum itself is one of the greatest artifacts we have,” said Shreve.

Prince said the site is not accepting walk-in tours and is asking people to book a tour ahead of time at 519-352-4799, or by email at buxton@ciaccess.com