Toronto's Historical Plaques
Learn a little of Toronto's history as told through its plaques
Mary Ann Shadd Cary 1823-1893
Photos and transcription by contributor Wayne Adam - Posted December, 2011
Photo Source - Wikimedia Commons
Plaque coordinates: 43.650058 -79.373138
Mary Ann Shadd Cary was an anti-slavery activist, an advocate for the rights of women, and a pioneering woman newspaper editor and publisher. The daughter of a free African American shoemaker and abolitionist, Shadd began a life of teaching at age 16 by founding a school for African American children in the slave state of Delaware. Following the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act (1850), many escaped and free African Americans (like Shadd) sought refuge in Canada. Shadd moved to Windsor, Ontario, opened a school, and in 1853, founded with Samuel R. Ward the Provincial Freeman, a newspaper "devoted to anti-slavery, temperance, and general literature." Through 1854 and 1855, Shadd lived in Toronto and published the struggling Freeman from a former building on this site. She married Thomas J. Cary in 1856, but was widowed with children only four years later. Shadd Cary returned to the United States in 1863 to recruit African American soldiers for the Union army during the American Civil War. She later became one of the first American women of African descent to earn a law degree.
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