Black History Fun Fact Friday – Mathieu de Costa

Me and Hubby had a wonderful time on our vacation. It’s been a long time since we’ve been out of the country, so it was refreshing to breathe another air. Canada is rich with Black history and many Black Canadians trace their ancestry to the so-called African American in America as the Underground Railroad brought tens of thousands of fugitive slaves to Canada. While many of these returned to the United States after emancipation, a significant population remained, largely in Southern Ontario, widely scattered in the country and the city, including Toronto.

Mathieu Da Costa (Groupe CNW/Postes Canada)

The first recorded (recorded being the key word here…I am sure there were others, but this is the first record. The first known black person to live in Canada is said to have been a slave from Madagascar named Olivier Le Jeune) free Black person in Canada was a Black man named Mathieu de Costa. He was a free man who spoke several languages (among them French, Dutch, Portuguese and a mixture of French-Spanish dialect and First Nations languages) and is remembered as a skilled interpreter and the first man of African heritage to visit and live in Canada. He lived in Port Royal (Nova Scotia) for a short time, and a plaque to honor his life and time spent there has been placed on a monument at the Port-Royal National Historical Site. A school in Toronto, and a street in Montreal and Quebec City have been named after him. Because of his ability to speak several languages, it is said that he helped to bridge the gap between Europeans and Natives living along the Canadian Atlantic Coast to live peacefully.

Hubby and I at an Ethiopian Restaurant in downtown Toronto Canada.

As a group, black people arrived in Canada in several waves. We are planning a return trip this winter to explore Canada’s Black history that we did not have the time to explore this trip such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site and Buxton National Historic Site, in Chatham-Kent, Ontario. (It was about 3 hours from where we were so we didn’t have time to visit this round). If you remember, we touched on Josiah Henson in the truth about Uncle Tom post here. In 1842 former fugitive slave Josiah Henson established the Dawn Settlement, a center for education, training, and community planning. With financial backing from American abolitionists, Dawn became a diverse settlement featuring a school, brickyard, sawmill, farmland, and profitable lumber industry. “At its peak, about 500 people lived at the Dawn Settlement. Henson purchased 200 acres of land adjacent to the community, where his family lived.” (Ontario Heritage Trust) The Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site is an open-air museum and African American history center near Dresden, Ontario, Canada, that includes the home of Josiah Henson. While the development of administrative problems and the school closure in 1868 caused many Blacks to abandon the land (some going back to America when slavery ended and some spreading out throughout Toronto), Josiah and his wife Nancy lived on the land the rest of their lives.

Although we didn’t get to visit these sites, we visited Markham, Woodstock, Orville, and Toronto and got some much-needed rest. My goal for this trip was to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. On this trip I:

  • Got my locs retwisted before leaving (something I don’t usually do. I like my natural do, but this was about being different sooo)

 

  • Stayed with friends on seven acres of land in a big country house instead of a hotel.

 

  • Ate largely vegetarian (except for the curry chicken and shawarma. Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish of sliced meat and vegetables wrapped in a cone-shaped bread and roasted. It is basically like one HUGE burrito. Also Jamaican Porridge is delicious. I’ll replace my oatmeal with it any day).

 

  • Showered in well water

 

  • Used Cinnamon, sweet milk and a touch of vanilla in my coffee instead of my usual French Vanilla Creamer

 

  • Drank no alcohol

 

  • Splurged on something cute without worrying over it (because I’m cheap). I just paid really fast before I changed my mind. In fact, before leaving the store I went into the dressing room and changed, wearing the pants and earrings home.

Peace and hair grease!

We had an amazing time but it sure does feels good to be back (nothing like being able to boo-boo in your own toilet and sleep in your own bed). Be sure to check out other fun facts on the Black History Fun Fact Friday page here.

Road Trip!

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Me and My Love, ’07

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I absolutely love to travel, especially when it comes to the open road. Flying is cool, buses are not all that, and trains are OK but driving is where it’s at. There is a tranquil about the pavement that sets the stage for good thinking. And what do you ask comes from good thinking? You got it, good writing! When my husband and I started out we drove everywhere and it is the image I always have in my head of a road trip. Hubby behind the wheel, me riding shot gun, snacks keeping the back seat warm and old school music taking us back from the radio. With Marvin Gaye and Luther’s help there was never a dull moment and the conversations we’ll have came directly from the heart, giving us each a better understanding of the other. We’ll laugh and come up with funny dances you can only do in the car (hubby has this hilarious rolling the window down thing) and inside jokes only we knew about.

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There is nothing like pulling away from the world and having the space all to yourself for good conversation, so these I also cherished. Let’s not forget Cruises! If there is anything more peaceful than the road it’s a ship, I definitely look forward to that again. In any event, we are attending a conference this week in Houston, and though it’s only four hours away (a good road trip is about 7 hours for us), I am excited to roll on out and taste of the road’s delicacies, notepad and pen in hand. You know, just in case :).