By 2nd National VP, Andrew Ross Thibodeau

Uncle Tom's Cabin & Buxton

Our application to erect a plaque at these sites was graciously denied. Both sites did not feel that a large plaque to Dr. Ross would fit with the layout of the current displays that they have. For example, at Uncle Tom's cabin, every display revolves around the life of Josiah Henson. At Buxton, the Freedom Walk series of plaques they are erecting are all going to be small bronze markers that commemorate members of the Buxton community.

The Chatham Kent Black Historical Society
519-352-3565 . . . . . . Gwen Robinson

I have been speaking with Gwen about our plaque proposal, and she is very enthusiastic. She is the Historian of the Chatham Kent Black Historical Society Heritage Room and Resource Centre in downtown Chatham. Gwen is a big fan of Dr. AM Ross's work and shares his story on her tours of their facility.

The Society is planning some historical markers in a park located about a block from the Heritage Room and Resource Centre. They are calling it a "Freedom Park". The park was the original site of the first ever conference of black Church leaders (the British Methodist Episcopal Church or BME) in Canada, in the 1850's. She feels that a plaque to Dr. Ross in the park, in coordination with other historical markers, would be a welcome addition.

She received our proposal on June 21, 2006. Gwen took it to her Board of Directors and they APPROVED their Society hosting a plaque to Dr. Ross!

The Proposal to the Society

Would the Chatham Black Historical Society be interested in a cash donation of a $1000, in return for hosting a plaque to Dr. Ross?

The plaque's location & composition will be approved by the Society before it is created.

We suggested a 3 foot by 2 foot plaque, mounted on a pedestal.

The Plaque

We would use the company, Folia out of Montreal.

We will purchase a 3 feet by 2 feet plaque, on a pedestal = $870.00 + shipping

Plaque Design

Since Folia would charge us a design fee of $200- $300, my father in law Tom Hunter, a fantastic graphic designer, will do the design. He will not charge us.

We estimate a total cost of $1500 to $1700 to create ($1000 including tax), ship ($50) and mount ($300-$500). Including the donation to the Society, a total cost of $2500 - $2700.

I am unsure of the mounting charge and will get an exact fee for that before we proceed with the plaque's creation.

Why Chatham as the site for the plaque vs. Dr. Ross's Hometown of Belleville?

While Belleville is Dr. Ross's hometown, we do not feel that it is the best place for the plaque. A spot in downtown Belleville would simply get far less tourism traffic than Chatham. Dr. Ross gained world-wide acclaim for his participation in helping slaves find freedom and Belleville is too far from historical sites related to the Underground Railroad.

We understand that the Chatham Black Historical Society is a tribute to the thousands of former slaves that reached freedom on the Underground Railroad. The Chatham/Kent area is an African-Canadian/African-American site of powerful importance. Recognizing Dr. Ross would compliment Chatham's goals of racial peace and the triumph of the human spirit. Dr. Ross was a fantastic example of a white man from the Establishment of Society who sacrificed much to help blacks gain freedom. This is a positive example of race relations that still bears significance to this day and forever.

RESULTS, As of August 1, 2006

Email from Gwen Robinson, Historian, The Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society: We certainly would be interested in the plaque. We would have to present your request to the board for approval. The next board meeting is on June 30 and we feel they will certainly approve. Our B.M.E. project would be the ideal spot for the plaque. We here are versed in Dr. Ross's efforts to conduct the fugitives from the south to freedom in Canada. This is very exciting to us and I feel sure the board will approve.

My conversation with Gwen in late July CONFIRMED the approval for the Historical Society to host the plaque to Dr. Ross!

A proposal for Government funding for the Freedom Park is going ahead this fall. They hope to start work on it next year. However, we can provide the plaque earlier and they will put it temporarily in the Heritage Centre. "Dr. Ross is my favourite Canadian" says Gwen, "we will make this happen!"

We will keep you, our Clan Ross members, updated on the approved plaque design and when and where it will posted.

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