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Thursday, June 20, 2024
Henry Bibb, photo courtesy of Library of Congress
Henry Bibb was born in Louisville, Kentucky on May 10, 1815. He escaped to Cincinnati in 1837 but was recaptured when he returned for his wife. He then escaped again this time to Detroit and made his way to Windsor after the United States passed the Fugitive Slave Act.

In 1848 Bibb published his autobiography, “Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave.” In 1850 Henry and his wife Mary escaped again this time to Detroit and made their way to Windsor.


He founded The Voice of the Fugitive, Canada’s first black newspaper, in Sandwich. The Voice of the Fugitive which published from the 1st of January 1851 until the office burned down in 1853. It was a strong tool to help promote the abolitionist movement and provide information for parties on the Underground Railroad.

In 1851 Henry and Mary Bibb helped establish the Refugee Home Society and were given the task of managing the society and administering its funds. They created settlements totaling approximately 2,000 acres in Sandwich and Maidstone Townships. Bibb would often greet newcomers personally and assisted many settlers to begin a new life in Canada. In 1854 Henry Bibb died suddenly in his thirty-ninth year.

On October 8th, 2005 Parks Canada dedicated a plaque to honour Henry and Mary Bibb. The plaque is located in a small park beside Mackenzie Hall.

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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


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