Ontario's African-Canadian Heritage: Collected Writings by Fred Landon, 1918–1967.


368 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55002-814-0
DDC 971.3'00496






Edited by Karolyn Smardz Frost et al
Reviewed by Nanette Morton

Nanette Morton teaches English at McMaster University in Hamilton.


As a librarian and history professor at the fledgling University of Western Ontario, Fred Landon was one of the first scholars to consistently research and publish African-Canadian history. Collected from scholarly journals such as the Journal of Negro History, as well as newspapers like the London Free Press, Landon’s work continues to provide valuable information for today’s scholars. Many of the essays in this volume focus on the history of the Underground Railroad and the living conditions and experiences of fugitive slaves who arrived in Ontario. He also documented early institutions, such as the American Missionary Association, black churches, and the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada. In many cases, Landon’s articles are still ahead of their time; written in 1922, his article on African-Canadian participation in the Rebellion of 1837 is still a valuable resource for present historians.


Landon’s work for the popular press documented an era that was just barely within living memory, as in his 1924 account of the experiences of a St. Thomas, Ontario centenarian who had escaped from Kentucky in the 1850s. The elderly man, whose name was Lloyd Graves, recounted the time when his former master came to Canada in order to persuade him to return to the master’s Kentucky plantation.


In some cases, Landon’s work has been supplanted by more modern texts. Modern historians, for example know that slavery played a more important role in the colony’s early years than Landon realized. Landon’s language is also dated—words like “coloured” and “Negro” are no longer in use. Nonetheless, the book is a valuable resource, made all the more useful by co-editor Smardz-Frost’s lengthy and detailed bibliographical essay.


Landon, Fred., “Ontario's African-Canadian Heritage: Collected Writings by Fred Landon, 1918–1967.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28254.