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New Exhibition at the TD Gallery in Toronto Reference Library Uncovers Toronto’s Black History

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Toronto Public Library is pleased to announce a new exhibition, Freedom City: Uncovering Toronto’s Black History that celebrates the early black citizens of Toronto. Through original paintings, drawings, photographs, manuscripts and broadsides,Freedom City covers the history of black Toronto – from the days of early settlement to the end of the 19th century. The exhibit has been enhanced by the research and contributions of prominent Canadian historians and authors Karolyn Smardz Frostand Afua Cooper.

Generously sponsored by TD Bank, Freedom City is the latest exhibition at the library’s TD Gallery, located on the main floor of the Toronto Reference Library. The show opens Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 9 a.m. and runs until Sunday, March 29, 2015.

What:              Freedom City: Uncovering Toronto’s Black History
When:             January 31 to March 29, 2015
Where:            TD Gallery, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street – Main Level
Hours:             Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Freedom City is part of a larger series of Black History Month programs and events held at library branches throughout the city.

Exhibition Highlights:

  • British Imperial Act of 1790 which allowed Loyalists and others moving to Canada to bring their slaves with them – tax free!
  • A letter from a fugitive slave, Henry Lewis, offering to purchase his freedom from his former owner, William Jarvis.
  • The earliest known photograph of an African Canadian woman in Toronto.
  • Photographs of Anderson Ruffin Abbott, the first black doctor in Canada, honoured by Mary Todd Lincoln for his service during the American Civil War.
  • School registers and prize lists showing African Canadian students excelling in their studies.
  • Portrait of William Peyton Hubbard, the only black deputy mayor in the history of Toronto (on loan from the City of Toronto Art Collection, Heritage & Museums Services).
  • A video featuring historian Afua Cooper tracing the development and importance of the Underground Railroad in Canada.

For more information, visit

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