Black History… Universal Inspiration

Welcome to the Amherstburg Freedom Museum

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum tells the story of African-Canadians’ journey and contributions, by preserving stories and presenting artifacts that educate and inspire. The museum was founded by Amherstburg resident Melvin “Mac” Simpson, on the belief that social, economic and educational issues would be better addressed by a society with greater knowledge and pride in its own history.

After over 40 years of service, and with generous support from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government sources, the Amherstburg Freedom Museum continues to be a national symbol of courage, determination and freedom.

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Businessman and abolitionist, James Forten, was born free on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia to Thomas and Sarah Forten. James Forten learned sail making from Robert Bridges and by the age of 20 became the foreman of Bridges's shop. Following Bridges's retirement in 1798, Forten became the master of the shop. Some estimates state that Forten accumulated over $100,000 by the early 1830s. He used both his reputation and wealth to promote anti-slavery and to gain civil rights for African-Americans, becoming one of Philadelphia's most vocal supporters of the abolition of slavery. Among his actions, in 1800, Forten was a petitioner to the US Congress to change the terms of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Law, which allowed suspected runaways to be seized/arrested without a warrant. He also refused to supply rigging to slave-trade vessels and was an organizer of the American Anti-Slavery Society. He was also a founder and member of the American Moral Reform Society which promoted temperance and women's rights. #DYK his legacy continued through his children and grandchildren who also became abolitionists and #civilrights activists, including his son, James Jr. and granddaughter, Charlotte Forten Grimké.

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Africans taken to North America (1600-1850)


Africans perished on slaving ships


People freed by the Abolition of Slavery Act in the British Colonies (1834)


Enslaved people who escaped to freedom in Canada

Our Mandate

To tell the stories of Amherstburg’s role in the Underground Railroad, and
African-Canadians’ journey and contributions to Canada and the region.

2017 Fundraising Campaign Goal $60,000
Volunteer Recruitment Campaign
Family History Binders Digitized
make a donation Become a Volunteer

Visitor Reviews

  • Outstanding experience! Definitely take the guided tour- the tour guides are very knowledgeable, and are excited about the history. The building has been lovingly restored, and the museum is filled with one of a kind artifacts. This is a must see in historic Amherstburg!

    Cherie Brooks
  • My family and I visited this museum today and WOW! We were greeted by the biggest smiles, the most bubbly personalities, and the kindest tour guides, Lorene and Sky. From start to finish, this tour was EVERYTHING! Lorene was very knowledgeable and answered every question asked. This is by far, one of the most informative and enjoyable tours that I have ever taken. Thank you for the wealth of information.

  • Thank you for all that Black History you have given me...most of it was never passed on in school even though I attended a fairly progressive one...I am so glad that I found your site.

  • "I'm not sure who runs the Amherstburg Freedom Museum but they do a wonderful job and I enjoy their FB postings all the time. Someone there deserves lots of high praise."

  • Wow! You all are on a roll at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum. I am really enjoying these profiles you are sharing.

  • Nothing today could possibly display in horrific detail the stories that happened so long ago, but museums such as this can shed light on it. And also show the good involved in such turbulent times. Because of the secret nature of the Underground Railroad, there are few places that survive for those of us today to see. So a place such as this is quite frankly a priceless gem.

  • This is Richard Browning Leveque, grandson of Melvin and Betty Simpson. I just wanted to say though that seeing all these wonderful posts from my grandparents Museum and memories and excerpts of black history have been so enjoyable and enriching. Continue doing what you're doing to educate and grow people on a better understanding of black history in Essex County. So proud to be part of this wonderful lasting Legacy.

    Richard Browning Leveque
  • “EXCELLENT!” I accompanied my youngest daughter here on a School Trip. It was FANTASTIC to say the least! Plentiful knowledge, and an AWESOME tour. SO MUCH history here! I HIGHLY recommend visiting this Museum. Definitely worth the stop!

    Mike H
  • This was a very enlightening experience.  Our docent is very knowledgeable and thoughtful.  Thank you,

    Gwen Davis, Richland, MS
  • Awesome time with my Tour Group! Awesome History! Came from Indianapolis, In. Thank you for the great tour!

    Annette Johnson

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