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A Short List of Famous Black Canadians

On the topic of famous black Canadians, the first that often come to people’s mind is Harry Jerome. Well, long before Donovan Bailey or Ben Johnson, Jerome was actually Mr. Canada and at the same time, the world’s fastest man. He lives in Vancouver but was born in Prince Albert, Sask. He has taken part in 1964 Olympics and then won a bronze model, then two years after that, he snatched gold at the 1966 Commonwealth Games.

Portia White is another very popular black Canadian. She’s born in Truro, Nova Scotia. At a young age, she started singing for her father’s African Baptist church choir and later performed as concert singer worldwide. She’s a teacher in profession in rural Halifax schools. With the support given to her by the Ladies’ Musical Clubs and Nova Scotia Talent Trust, it is not too long for her to see her great potential.

Among the major appearances she made was actually at the opening of Charlottetown’s Confederation Center for the Arts in 1964. This was also the same time when Queen Elizabeth II attended the event.

Elijah McCoy has a somewhat unfortunate fate as he was been a slave in Kentucky in Colchester, Ontario but he didn’t stayed as such as he managed to escape in 1843. Despite having a degree in engineering in Scotland, upon his return to Canada, McCoy wasn’t able to land any job than a railway fireman.

Being a mechanic he is in 1870s, he soon noticed that machines should stop every time it needed oil. He then made a device to oil machinery while it’s working and sooner or later, no machine or engine was complete until it had installed with a McCoy Lubricator.

In 1857, William Hall made history for being the first famous black Canadian to receive Victoria Cross and to become the first ever black Canadian sailor. He’s born in Horton Bluff, N.S and joined the Royal Navy even when he’s just a teen. In addition to joining the Royal Navy, he was actually decorated for his courage and bravery during Crimean War.

Another black Canadian and the first woman publisher to exist in North America is Mary Ann Shadd. She is the founder of Provincial Freeman or an abolitionist newspaper with Reverend Ringgold Ward in 1853. In 1823, she was born in Delaware but then made a decision to move to Canada in 1851 where she opened an integrated school.

She survived the American Civil War and after that, she made up her mind to pursue her love and passion of teaching in the US and soon became the first woman to e0nroll in Howard University law school.

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