This extraordinary photographic essay features the descendants of freedom-seekers who escaped slavery in the United States in the years before the American Civil War. Some came entirely alone and unaided, and others found their way to Canada with the help of a clandestine network of "conductors," and "stations" called the "Underground Railroad." It’s estimated some 30,000 men, women and children fled north to freedom, settling from the Canadian Maritimes as far west as the Manitoba border. Most came to what is now Ontario, to places such as Windsor, Chatham, Buxton, the Niagara Peninsula, Owen Sound, and larger cities like Hamilton and Toronto.
Some 150 years later, Yuri Dojc, an internationally acclaimed photographer based in Toronto, explored the Canadian termini of the “Underground Railroad”, capturing poignant images of 24 descendants. Young and old, Black and white, here are the great great grandchildren of once-enslaved African Americans. These Canadians are mindful of their histories and justly proud of their ancestors' courage.
Their stories are personal as well as historical. “This project shows we are all one family… I am as much Black as I am white. I am of African slaves as I am of Irish immigrants. I am multiracial and we are all cousins”, says descendant, Carl Stevenson.