Toronto's Historical Plaques
Discover Toronto's history as told through its plaques
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St. Lawrence Hall
Photo and transcription by contributor Wayne Adam - Posted March, 2007
Photo by Alan L Brown - Posted November, 2013
Photo Source - Wikimedia Commons
Photo Source - Wikimedia Commons
Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, sang to packed houses here in 1851. Ten years later, Tom Thumb attracted scores of fascinated spectators. It's quite a building here at 157 King Street East on the southwest corner with Jarvis Street. Here's what this Parks Canada plaque, just inside the front doors, has to say:
Coordinates: 43.650252 -79.372283
St. Lawrence Hall was an important venue for many African Canadian activities in support of abolition and the welfare of refugee slaves in Toronto. It provided an important platform for major abolitionist speakers including Frederick Douglass, Samuel Ringgold Ward and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.
One of the first events in the newly-renovated St. Lawrence Hall was the 1851 "North American Convention of Colored Freemen". Anti-slavery feelings ran high in Toronto after the United States government passed the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850. Now escaped slaves and even free African Americans could be arrested without warrant or trial anywhere in the United States. Black abolitionist leaders Henry Bibb of Canada West and Theodore Holly of Vermont organized organized the convention to discuss issues of slavery and Black emigration from the United States. Fifty-three delegates from across Canada and the Unites States, plus one from the Caribbean, attended the three-day convention.
Prominent abolitionist leaders including Dr. Martin Delany, Thomas Smallwood and John Cary debated issues of importance to the North American Black community. Topics included discussion of how to advance the fight against slavery and the effects of the Fugitive Slave Law, the fight against segregated schooling for Black children and the difficult question of whether or not to encourage Blacks to emigrate from the United States and build new lives in Canada, the Caribbean, or Africa. The convention's final resolution confirmed Canada as the best destination for refugee American slaves.
> Posted August 11, 2012
While yes there were slaves in York, the hideous practice of slave trading in public markets never occurred here in York. All slaves were eventually freed in 1833 throughout the British Empire. Slaves were never bought and sold at St Lawrence Market as Gov Simcoe decreed there will be no slave trading in Upper Canada as far back as 1793.
> Posted January 3, 2009
I think it's also important to note that long before the abolitionist movement, slaves were bought and sold at St. Lawrence Market. This ought to be added to your page as well.
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