Freedom Trail Points of Interest
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Owen Sound's Black History

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Freedom Trail Points

These are the points of interest along the Freedom Trail. Click on the images for larger versions. You may also access this information visually on the Trail Map page.

1 - Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum

1155 1st Ave West

Rich in rail, marine and industrial history, this museum is housed in the former Canadian National Railway Station. Follow the Underground Railroad "Path to Freedom" trail and explore interactive stations while learning about area's Black history. Small admission fee/entry.

Web Site


2 - Wm. Kennedy

1100 block 1st Ave West

Kennedy's, one of a number of industries that employed Black workers, was best known for its production of propellers and other large industrial items. The lot is now vacant. Kennedy's industrial whistle once signaled the start of the workday, lunch time and dismissal for workers. It is now atop the Marine & Rail Museum roof and heard twice daily, at noon and 5:00 pm.


3 - Molock Home

242 11th St West

This home was built (circa 1870s) by Francis Molock , an escaped slave from the Maryland area. Francis came via the Underground Railroad, led by Harriet Tubman. Francis was a preacher at the B.M.E. Church.


4 - British Methodist Episcopal Church

245 11th St West

Bought from Westside Methodist Church (see #5) in 1911 for $1.00, this church still serves a congregation today. Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, the church was dedicated July 25, 1987, by the former Governor General of Ontario, the Honourable Lincoln Alexander.


5 - Central Westside United Church

310 10th St West

Westside Methodist Church was originally located in the building where the British Methodist Episcopal Church (see #4) is now. The cornerstone for the new Westside was laid May 10, 1910.


6 - Billy Bishop Home & Museum

948 3rd Ave West

A National Historic site, this was the boyhood home of WWI fighter pilot and Victoria Cross recipient Billy Bishop. This Victorian home features Canadian WWI and WWII history. A display "Breaching the Colour Barrier" discusses African Canadian contributions to war efforts. Tribute is paid to area African Canadians who served. Small admission fee/entry.


7 - Former Christian Science Society

898 1st Ave West

This is the oldest existing church building in the city. The church and building behind it supported arrivals from the Underground Railroad; it is said to have once had a secret room. In 1874 the Women's Christian Temperance Union was formed in Cleveland. In May 1874 the first Canadian chapter of the organization was created in Owen Sound.


8 - Owen Sound Farmers' Market

114 8th St East

A farmers' market has existed on this location since 1851. It is believed some of the earliest church services for Blacks, namely "Little Zion Church", were held at this location.


9 - Buchan Manor

682 2nd Ave East

This house is thought to have welcomed arrivals of the Underground Railroad through a tunnel from the Sydenham river to a shed in the garden. The tunnel was originally designed to protect the family from an Indian uprising.


10 - Greenwood Cemetery

2nd Ave East

Opened to the public in 1854, it was called the "People's Cemetery". The house (now an office) is one of the oldest structures in the City. Built in 1927, visit the Mausoleum for the beautiful stained glass windows. Pick up a copy of the Cemetery Walking Tour for more information about those significant Blacks laid to rest here.


11 - Harrison Park

75 2nd Ave East

In 1875 John Arthur Harrison and his wife, Emma, purchased a land parcel of 150 acres for $3,100. On July 7, 1912 the Harrisons sold 80 acres of parkland to the City for $5,000 (half its value) with the agreement it would always remain a park. It is also the location of the annual Emancipation Celebration Picnic, held continuously for more than 145 years.

Harrison Park Inn

Originally built around 1912, the Harrison Park Inn was destroyed by fire May 29, 1985. The new Inn opened Feb. 22, 1987.


11 - Black History Cairn

Harrison Park

Through the symbolism of quilt patterns and the surrounding interpretive plaques, the Cairn explains the route of those forced into slavery and their escape to freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad, a "network of assistance". It is estimated that, between 1830 and 1865, approximately 100,000 slaves escaped north with this assistance. Designed by a descendant of a former slave who found refuge in Owen Sound, the Cairn contains stones from Africa, slave and free states, and Canadian border points to mark the journey north.

Web Site


12 - Owen Sound City Hall & Daddy Hall Plaque

808 2nd Ave East

Built in 1870 for $22,500, on February 24, 1961, a blaze broke out in the boiler room destroying the entire building. New construction began in 1965 with the official opening in 1967, for Canada's Centennial. Note the Interpretive Plaque in front of City Hall telling the story of John 'Daddy' Hall, a veteran of the War of 1812, escaped slave and town crier.

Web Site


13 - Coulson British Hotel

801 2nd Ave East

The City's first major hotel was owned and operated by wealthy businessman J.P. Coulson, who contributed $8,000 to the building of the Town Hall in 1912. It is rumored there was a secret room in the basement of the hotel used as part of the Underground Railroad.


14 - Mudtown

3rd Ave East north of 15th St East

Named for the muddy conditions in the area, many of Owen Sound's Black community settled in this neighborhood. The Rotary Club sponsored a contest in 1907 to give the area a new name and 'Northcliffe' won, but it remained best known as Mudtown for many years.


15 - Northcliffe Mission

1835 3rd Ave East

Built by Division Street Church members, the Northcliffe Mission was dedicated in 1922. With 70 seats, it provided a place for Christian African Canadians to worship.


16 - Harry Lumley-Bayshore Community Centre

1900 3rd Ave East

The 'Bayshore' is named after famous 1950 Stanley Cup Detroit Red Winger Harry Lumley. Lumley, an Owen Sound Native was inducted into the Toronto Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980.



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