It wasn't too long after Upper Canada was established at the turn of the 19th century that the white settlers loyal to England started being joined by the Black slaves from the newly minted United States looking for somewhere they can be free. After Guelph was founded in 1827, the British Methodist Episcopal Church became a beacon, a safe space, for those people on the road to freedom along the Underground Railroad, and the Guelph Black Heritage Society want to reclaim that history.
On November 4, the Guelph Black Heritage Society is holding a kick-off celebration for a fundraiser called "Rampin’ It Up!", an effort to raise $47,000 to create a new accessible entrance at Heritage Hall, the cultural, historical and social community centre at 83 Essex St. The event at the eBar, 41 Quebec St, is a licensed event featuring live music by The Things followed by DJ Charless Janzen starting at 9 pm. Tickets in advance are $10 and $15 at the door.
So for a little context, this week's edition of the Guelph Politicast goes down to Essex St and Heritage Hall and talks to BHS member and local realtor John Leacock. Leacock was one of several people that came together to make a case to buy the Heritage Hall and preserve its place in local Black history. But that was only the beginning of his plans for the old BME church, Leacock envisions a place that's not just a remembrance of things past, but an invitation to where all communities within Guelph can go in the future, and it has to begin by turning the Heritage Hall into an accessible place for everyone.
So let's go to the crossroads of the past, present and future at Heritage Hall in this week's Guelph Politicast.
If you're planning on going to the Rampin' It Up fundraiser, you can get tickets here. For more information, you can send the Guelph Black Heritage Society an email, and for all other information about BHS, its programs, or about Black history in Guelph, you can visit their website here.
The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.
The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.
Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday's episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.
Stay tuned for future editions of the Guelph Politicast!