2011 Annual US/Canadian Genealogy Conference

14th Annual US/Canadian Genealogy Conference in Buxton, Ontario: September 2, 2011


The Harriet Tubman Institute, through the S.P.A.C.E. Initiative, worked in collaboration with the Buxton National Site and Museum to plan the 14th Annual US/Canadian Genealogy Conference. The conference was held on September 2, 2011 and featured a number of speakers closely connected with the history of southern Ontario. (Please see the general information page about the Conference for an outline of the relationship between the Harriet Tubman Institute and the Buxton community).

For 2011, the main speakers were Irene Moore Davis whose presentation on “The Adventures of the Dunn Brothers, Early Elected Officials of African Descent” led the conferees on a fascinating journey of two early African Canadian politicians, who also happen to be her ancestors. Using their lives as windows on the past, the presentation opened up a discussion of the historical political lives of African Canadians, their activism and their legacies in southern Ontario. Natasha Henry presented on “Emancipation Day: A Glimpse into the Social History of African Canadians” which followed the importance of the celebrations of the formal end of enslavement in the British colonies, in several communities across Canada: responding to the context, the presentation focused on the emancipation celebrations in southern Ontario. Adrienne Shadd spoke about “Blacks in Mid- to Late 19th Century Hamilton: Beyond the Underground Railroad,” which examined the lives of African Canadians in southern Ontario whose experiences are often left out of the historical narrative, falling as they do outside of the trope of the UGRR.

One of the innovations that has emerged from the collaboration between S.P.A.C.E. and the Buxton Museum has been the York Students’ Panel at the conference. This year, the presenter was Sheldon Parkes who gave an much-appreciated presentation about the archival work which resulted in his paper, “The Early History of Blacks at the Kingston Penitentiary.”

The keynote delivery on the day was by Kate Clifford Larson who presented on “Catch me if you can”: Facing the challenges of sharing new interpretations and recent historical finds about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.” Dr. Clifford Larson engaged the gathering with a discussion of the challenges of offering new data or interpretations where an icon like Harriet Tubman is concerned. The question period which followed was both lively and informative.

Once again, the conference was a success; we look forward to this continued collaboration.