Reverend Josiah Henson National Historic Person (1789-1883)

Illustration of a man's face on a dark background including people walking and a night sky
Acrylic painting of Josiah Henson by Tony Kew, 1983
© Library and Archives Canada / 2264970

Reverend Josiah Henson was designated as a national historic person in 1995.

Historical Importance: Community leader, Underground Railroad conductor.

Commemorative Plaque: 29251 Uncle Tom's Road, Dresden, OntarioFootnote 1

Josiah Henson (1789-1883)

After escaping to Upper Canada from slavery in Kentucky, the Reverend Josiah Henson became a conductor of the Underground Railroad and a force in the abolition movement. The founder of the Black settlement of Dawn, he was also an entrepreneur and established a school, the British American Institute. His fame grew after Harriet Beecher Stowe stated that his memoirs published in 1849 had provided "conceptions and incidents" for her extraordinarily popular novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Henson's celebrity raised international awareness of Canada as a haven for refugees from slavery.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
English plaque inscription

The National Program of Historical Commemoration relies on the participation of Canadians in the identification of places, events and persons of national historic significance. Any member of the public can nominate a topic for consideration by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

Get information on how to participate in this process

Date modified :