Karolyn Smardz Frost offering a lecture on BC's Black pioneers

2024 Haig-Brown Memorial Lecture with Karolyn Smardz Frost

Saturday, March 23 – 1:00pm. By popular demand, Karolyn Smardz Frost will be hosting a second Haig-Brown Memorial Lecture this year on March 23. In this talk, Karolyn will be highlighting BC’s Black Pioneers.

About the Lecture

Starting in 1858 more than 800 African American settlers from California set sale for Vancouver Island. Some went to Salt Spring Island where descendants live to this day. They came at the invitation of Governor James Douglas, whose mother was of African descent. These talented and entrepreneurial people contributed in myriad way to the building of British Columbia. Mifflin Gibbs who had been an Underground Railroad operator in Pennsylvania in his earlier years, would become the first Black man elected to public office in Canada. This talk details the lives and experiences of these intrepid souls, who fled oppression in the United States to build new lives on Canadian soil.

Tickets: $10
Saturday, March 23 at 1:00pm
Location: Rivercity Theatre, 1080 Hemlock St, Campbell River, BC V9W 3E4

Link to buy tickets (note, ticket purchases are hosted on the Museum at Campbell River’s website)

About Karolyn

Karolyn is an archaeologist, historian and award-winning author who specializes in uncovering lost tales of our nation’s past. She has spent her career uncovering, researching, and rebuilding the important stories of brave African Americans who risked everything to on their way to freedom in Canada.

In 1985 she and her team excavated Canada’s first Underground Railroad site. The excavations brought to light clues to the lives of Kentucky freedom seekers Lucie and Thornton Blackburn. Their remarkable experiences of enslavement and freedom are told in Karolyn’s biography I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad (2007). The result of more than 20 years of research, it remains the only book on Canadian Black History to win the Governor General’s Award.

Another major excavation revealing our nation’s role as a major terminus of the Underground Railroad brought to light the Canadian home of Cecelia Jane Reynolds. She was just 15 years old when she fled American slavery via the elegant Cataract House hotel in Niagara Falls, New York. Karolyn recreates Cecelia’s remarkable tale in the pages of Steal Away Home (2017), which won the Speaker’s Award for the Province of Ontario and was a finalist for the Atlantic Book Award. 

Karolyn is a dynamic and engaging speaker who will entertain, enthrall and inspire as she brings to life the stories of freedom seekers in Canada.