The following web site is dedicated to all those that have fought for freedom. The "Underground Railroad" is only one, of many historical events, that marks this continued struggle. To date, the focus of the Underground Railroad has oriented itself toward the southern portion of the journey, the United States. This focus is justified as it marks the start of the arduous pursuit for freedom. In addition, it represents the area where most of the historical and archaeological evidence has been found.
As slaves ventured northwards toward the Canadian border, their population dispersed, and so did any evidence of their existence. After all, their goal was to leave no trace behind. To their credit, they did a splendid job. To the archaeologists, historians, and the curious, they provide us with one of the biggest challenges in recreating this struggle for freedom.
Oral history, with all its shortcomings as a reliable historical tool, is probably one of the most important, yet controversial sources of information on the Underground Railroad. This web site would like to use these oral histories as catalysts for recreating one of the final stops of the Underground Railroad - The St-Armand-Station Slave Cemetery - specifically the Nigger Rock Site. Submit your Your Oral Accounts.
A key objective is to keep the discussion on the Underground Railroad thriving year round. Restricting this discussion to Black History Month - February [ironically the shortest month of the year - even on a leap year], does not create the momentum needed to push forward the study of the St-Armand-Station Slave Cemetery. Local newspaper records confirm that every few years or so, the folklore of slave cemeteries reemerges. Usage of the term folklore is not to undermine the existence of such a cemetery, but employed as a cautionary measure toward the various stories and interpretations surrounding the site. The term folklore is used as a synonym for oral tradition with a grain of truth.
The last attempt at acknowledging the Slave Cemetery in St-Armand-Station was revived by Hank Avery, a Bedford elementary teacher, in January of 1997. Initially, political hurdles had undermined Mr. Avery's efforts, but he succeeded in keeping the debate alive beyond Black History Month. Read about these political obstacles in the News & Evidence section of this web site.
In Canada, there are only three major sites that officially mark the final stops of the underground railroad. One is located in Shelburne (Birchtown), Nova Scotia, another in Priceville, Ontario and the other in Dresden, Ontario, a little over an hour from Detroit, Michigan. [Dresden marks the site where Josiah Henson lived his final days. Henson inspired the fictional Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.]These sites are included in our links page.
At present, there are no officially recognized slave sites or cemeteries in the province of Quebec. There has, however, been much talk and speculation about the exact location of sites and cemeteries specifically along the Quebec-Vermont border. Locals commonly refer to the area as the Eastern Townships, an historical reference to the British occupation of the area, both as explorers and capitalists, and later as refuge for Loyalists and their slaves who abandoned the United States.
It is believed that a hill, labeled Nigger Rock, marks the site of several slave burials. Some call it folklore, while others have produced compelling evidence, through historical documents, to demonstrate that there were indeed slaves in the area. As this evidence accumulates, you can refer to it in the News & Evidence section of this site.
The exact location of Nigger Rock itself is also a point of contention. Discrepancies are found between the topographic location and the local oral historical location of the cemetery. The time has come to test the local folklore and to properly assign a page in history for the site. You are encouraged to use this web site as a vehicle to complete that lost, but not forgotten page in history.
The Underground Railroad A Canadian Perspective on Slavery ©2005 | Design: G. Scardera | e-mail