|If knowledge is power then education is the key to
unlocking that power. Slave owners sought to ensure that those
held in bondage would not enjoy the benefits of an education. In
fact it was illegal for anyone to teach a slave to read or write.
Therefore, the opportunity to receive an education upon arrival
in Canada was highly prized.
The January 1, 1851 edition of the Voice of the Fugitive details
the schools for ‘colored’ people in Canada at that
time. In Malden a school was established by Mrs Coywood, with
teachers Miss Jane Buckner and Miss Turner. The Reverend Mr.
Kirkland ran a school in New Canaan with teacher Miss Lyons.
At that time there was no school listed in Windsor. In Sandwich
Mrs Mary E. Bibb taught 25 students.
Rev. William King established the Elgin Association in the Buxton
area and sold shares to raise funds. He bought land in Raleigh
and sold 20 hectare lots for $125 over 10 years. From the outset
education was a top priority in the settlement. The Buxton Mission
School was the first fully integrated school in North America
and it’s reputation for academic achievement was well known.
A second school was later established in the northern part of
As refugees flooded into the Windsor region a school was established
in the ‘Old Barracks’ on the former City Hall Square
with Mary Shadd (Carey) as teacher until the barracks was mysteriously
consumed by fire. The Common Schools Act of 1850 established
separate schools for blacks
first new segregated school later known as the ‘Old Negro
School’ was on Assumption between McDougall and Mercer
streets. The last teachers at that school were Mrs. Luella Williams
and Queenie Fayette. In 1887 Father Dean T Wagner pastor of St.
Alphonsus parish in Windsor established a mission to assist fugitives
many of whom were orphans. The Religious Hospitallers of St.
Joseph of Montreal opened the orphanage and school in 1890. In
Amherstburg African Canadian students continued to attend King
St. School until 1920 at which time the students moved to Amherstburg
Segregated schools continued to exist in Essex County until
1967. Also several schools were predominantly black due to segregated
settlements. These schools were underfunded and often in poor
condition. These were also the only opportunities for employment
for African Canadian teachers for many decades.
Enrollment of African Canadian students in the 1900’s centred
around certain key schools in Windsor. These schools include
Mercer Street School, Dougall Ave. School, Windsor Collegiate
and Patterson High School. Also many African Canadian teachers
began their careers at these institutions.