St. Lawrence Hall
St. Lawrence Hall 1850
There are three plaques at this location.
All can be seen on this page.
Photo and transcription by contributor Wayne Adam - Posted March, 2007
Photo Source - Wikimedia Commons
Photo Source - Wikimedia Commons
Plaque coordinates: 43.650252 -79.372283
St. Lawrence Hall was an important venue for many African Canadian activities in support of abolition and the welfare of refugee slaves in Toronto. It provided an important platform for major abolitionist speakers including Frederick Douglass, Samuel Ringgold Ward and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.
One of the first events in the newly-renovated St. Lawrence Hall was the 1851 "North American Convention of Colored Freemen". Anti-slavery feelings ran high in Toronto after the United States government passed the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850. Now escaped slaves and even free African Americans could be arrested without warrant or trial anywhere in the United States. Black abolitionist leaders Henry Bibb of Canada West and Theodore Holly of Vermont organized organized the convention to discuss issues of slavery and Black emigration from the United States. Fifty-three delegates from across Canada and the Unites States, plus one from the Caribbean, attended the three-day convention.
Prominent abolitionist leaders including Dr. Martin Delany, Thomas Smallwood and John Cary debated issues of importance to the North American Black community. Topics included discussion of how to advance the fight against slavery and the effects of the Fugitive Slave Law, the fight against segregated schooling for Black children and the difficult question of whether or not to encourage Blacks to emigrate from the United States and build new lives in Canada, the Caribbean, or Africa. The convention's final resolution confirmed Canada as the best destination for refugee American slaves.
Photo by Alan L Brown - Posted September, 2006
Designed by William Thomas, in the Renaissance tradition, this hall, built by the city in 1850, was for many years Toronto's chief social and cultural centre. With its handsome Corinthian facade and graceful cupola, it ranks amongst the finest of 19th century Canadian public buildings.
Its assembly room was used for lectures, concerts, balls and receptions; here such noted Canadians as Sir John A. Macdonald, George Brown, and Thomas D'Arcy McGee addressed Toronto audiences. After a long period of disuse and neglect, it was restored in 1967 as a centennial project.
Photo by Alan L Brown - Posted April, 2004
Erected in 1850 this structure provided a grand public hall in the St. Lawrence market-place, then the centre of Toronto, for concerts, balls, meetings and other civic events. Seating a thousand, it was proudly regarded as one of the city's finest buildings. Here Jenny Lind sang, the Anti-Slavery Society met, and George Brown addressed ardent Reform gatherings before Confederation. When the centre of the city shifted north and west in the 1870's, St. Lawrence Hall's great era ended.
Posted August 11, 2012
While yes there were slaves in York the hideous practice of slave trading in public markets never occurred here in York. All slaves were eventually freed in 1833 throughout the British Empire. Slaves were never bought and sold at St Lawrence Market as Gov Simcoe decreed there will be no slave trading in Upper Canada as far back as 1793.
Posted September 22, 2010
Thank you for the comment... Helped me with my research paper...
Posted January 3, 2009
I think it's also important to note that long before the abolitionist movement, slaves were bought at sold at St. Lawrence market. This ought to be added to your page as well.
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