Amherstburg Freedom Museum

Vision, Mission, Objective

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum, previously known as ‘the North American Black Historical Museum’, located in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada. It is a community-based, non-profit museum that tells the story of African-Canadians’ history and contributions. Founded in 1975 by residents of Amherstburg, it preserves, presents artifacts and tells the story of African-Canadians’ journey and contributions.

The location of the Museum is key; Amherstburg meant freedom, as the Canadian destination for many Freedom Seekers escaping slavery in the United States. Also included in the museum complex are Nazrey A.M.E. Church – national historic site and stop on the Underground Railroad, and the Taylor Log Cabin – home of George Taylor a formerly enslaved man and his family.
Founded by Betty and Melvin “Mac” Simpson, the museum was officially incorporated in 1975. It was their vision to promote the rich heritage of African Canadians, many of whose ancestors had come as refugees from enslavement in the United States. In 2015, the North American Black Historical Museum celebrated its 40th anniversary, and changed its name to the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, to emphasize its connection to people seeking freedom.

Mac Simpson
Between 1800 and 1860, the small town of Amherstburg, Ontario held a special place in the hearts of some fifty thousand men, women, and children. Runaways fleeing slavery and oppression south of the border, they found, at this outpost on the crossing point of the Detroit River, a sanctuary of hope and opportunity in Canada. Their journeys were not just about the destination. Each individual passage to freedom depended on the unprecedented solidarity and empathy of ordinary Americans. For over fifty years, the power of shared humanity stood up to the dividing lines of race, age, beliefs, and religion and unleashed the shackles of oppression for so many.

The “Underground Railroad”, as it became known, is commemorated at the Amherstburg Museum, so that we may all continue to seek solace and inspiration from what human beings can achieve when they offer an open hand of kindness to those driven by determination. History teaches us that tomorrow is but an opportunity to learn from yesterday. And so it is with the strength of dignity of the lessons of the past that we recognise how our mandate for the future has never been more pressing and more relevant.

We will vigorously champion the power of human beings to come together across the dividing lines of our societies. We will openly challenge those who limit the dreams of others through racial, economic, or social oppression. We will work tirelessly to scale and dismantle the barricades that prevent people from building new lives and new futures.

And we will defend the ideal of freedom for all.

The human fight against the division of 19th century society was the founding spirit of the creation of the Amherstburg Museum.
Today, this fight continues.

And so, we dedicate ourselves to ensuring that the memory of Amherstburg continues to inspire young men and women to come together, in empathy and solidarity, to demand, curate and shape their freedom.

And we do this because History is on our side.