Posts tagged Lucan
Posts tagged Lucan
The Wilberforce settle is a free black community that is notable to the time period with our class is studying in regards to the letters of Hiram Wilson and his abolition work in Canada and the United States. Named after the famous British abolitionist, William Wilberforce, the Wilberforce settlement was founded in 1829-1830 by free blacks from Cincinnati, but due to poor management the settlement disbanded in six years later. Today,north of London, in Lucan, Ontario all that marks where the former Wilberforce colony stood is a plaque (pictured below).
Free black residents of Cincinnati were forced to leave the city when a $500 fee paid to the city was mandatory. The fee was part of the city’s 1807 Black Laws.Most free blacks could not afford this fee so they decided to seek refuge in Canada. The American Colonization Society played an active role in the formation of the Wilberforce settlement and helped fund the black settlers journey to freedom. Israel Lewis and Thomas Crissup were elected by Cincinnati black to help find land in Canada that would be suitable for a colony. They decided on an area north of London, Ontario, Biddulph County, on the Ausable River. They struck an agreement to purchase the land from the Canada company, at the cost of $1.50 an acre. In 1831, the settlement was named Wilberforce in honour of the British abolitionist William Wilberforce.
In 1829, the Cincinnati Riots sparked a mass exodus of black citizens from Cinncinati. Many made there way to the Wilberforce colony. The deal that had been struck between the Thomas, Crissup and the Canada company required $6000 for the land, which the settlers could not afford. They received financial assistance from Quakers James Brown and Stephen Duncan purchased 600 acres for Wilberforce. Some of the first homes and structures were constructed by 1832. The first year of the colony, there were only a handful of families, but within a few years estimates put the number of families in the colony from anywhere between 150-200 families settled here. The colony began to flourish and one of the first institutions established was a school. The original contingent of free blacks to Wilberforce were of a wealthier, more educated class who valued education and therefore wanted to establish a school for their children. Around 20-30 children attended this school.
Eventually conflicts between the the original group of settlers from Cincinnati and other black settlers divided the colony and led to its diaspora. Irish settlers began moving into the area and it became the town of Lucan. By the 20th century the only family from the Wilberforce colony with descendants still living in the area was Peter Butler. Many gravestones of the Butler family remain in a small family cemetery plot today in Lucan.