Montreal's senior monthly since 1986

Feb '10


And now for a little Canadian History

Canada, built by people from so many backgrounds, is a rich, ever-evolving cultural mosaic. To mark Black History Month, The Senior Times highlights the contributions of black Canadians who have made a difference to our society in their respective fields.

Portia White, born in Nova Scotia, was a world-class singer who performed internationally.

Referred to as Canada’s Marian Anderson, the great contralto sang European classical music as well as spirituals, excelling at both. She died in 1968.

Harry Jerome, from Saskatch­ewan, was Mr. Canada, and a great athlete who set a world record with his 10-second 100-metre sprint. The runner won a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympics and a gold medal at the 1966 Commonwealth Games.

Elijah McCoy, son of escaped American slaves, studied engineering. In the 1870s, McCoy invented a device to oil machinery while it was working. Soon nothing but the real McCoy would do.

William Hall, a Nova Scotian, became the first Canadian sailor as well as the first black Canadian to receive the Victoria Cross. He served in the Crimean War and was decorated for bravery.

Mary Ann Shadd published the Provincial Freeman, an abolitionist newspaper, in 1853, and was the first female publisher in North America. She opened an integrated school in Canada in 1851.

After the American Civil War, she returned to the U.S. and was the first woman to enroll in Howard law school.

Nathaniel Dett, born in Ontario in 1882, earned an MA from the Eastman School of Music and attended Harvard. He was a conductor, composer and pianist. His music continues to be performed. Learn more about black Canadians at



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