(September 23, 2020) Continuing our focus on local museums and historic sites, this week we are spotlighting the John Freeman Walls Historic Site Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum, located in Lakeshore (formerly Puce) Ontario. Consisting of several buildings and displays, the museum commemorates the life and work of John Freeman Walls and his wife Jane King Walls, who, after escaping American slavery themselves, settled in Puce and turned their home into a terminal on the Underground Railroad, where they assisted many other refugees achieve their freedom. This history is well known by those who have lived in the area for years. However, for visitors, local museums and historic sites ground history in time and place.
This gives white settlers in particular the chance to observe and compare the parallel track of their own ancestors to that of the Walls’ and the fugitive slaves. Rather than wondering ‘what would I have done?’, becoming curious about the history of our own families lets us situate ourselves in the history of social justice, determining our point of origin, and opening up choices for our own future trajectory.
“Curiosity is at the heart of equity,” says Nneka Allen, whose ancestors include John Freeman Walls and his wife Jane King Walls, who are featured at this historic site.
Amherstburg Freedom Museum: Commemorating the Underground Railroad in Canada, September 16, 2020