Black Heritage Network Meeting

May 1, 2000 

Participants’ Output 

Meeting Participants: Jim Hill, Beth Dennahower, Yvonne Hopkins, Robin Parisi, Gary Hardy, Rochelle Bush, June Harper, Harry Harper, Margot Leslie, Ada Summers, Palmier Stevenson-Young, Peter Meyler, Wilma Morrison, Lyn Roberts 

Resource People: Paul Samson (facilitator), Karen Daniels, Lorraine Hogan, Arlene White, Eva Salter (chair) 

Immediate Project Challenges: 

  •  Co-ordination of event dates: events conflict (e.g. slave crossing from Buffalo to Fort Erie)
  • August 12, 2000 slave crossing event in Fort Erie 
  • Need for organizational assistance 
  • Challenge: How to involve folks in Fort Erie 

Strategic Analysis of the African-Canadian (Niagara’s Freedom Trail) Heritage Tour: 

History of Tour: 

  • Began with community wanting to tell its story and generate revenue through We tourism opportunities 
  • NET Corp approached by Ministry of Tourism to facilitate development of network in Niagara and develop a product 
  • Sites operated on own – need to link them 
  • Received money for publication of brochure 
  • Ontario Heritage Council – approached Niagara tour with money to write and produce a book – by Owen Thomas – History of Niagara (now on 3rd printing 

books sold at cost to sites to sell for profit)

  • Attempts to bring sites together but were unsuccessful – main stakeholders were involved but others were not, limited resources 
  • Who needed to be involved? 
  • Wanted to focus on Freedom Trail – journey didn’t end at river 
  • While stakeholders have not met for several years, NET Corp still active in marketing 
  • Black history – mandate of NET Corp to promote regional tourism. People know Niagara Falls but not the other things Niagara has to offer 
  • Suggestion re: need for an “Ontario” brochure that markets all sites in Ontario and tells the whole story
  • ? Including grave sites in region in the product 
  • 5 tour operators include black heritage 

Intent of tour: 

  • Generate revenue
  • Promote and preserve history (education St. Catharines museum has a teacher kit, Doll house – use the book, visits to schools, part of curriculum
  • Family history / reunion aspect of tour
  • Preserve history and sites (buildings, artifacts) “heritage preservation”
  • Preserving integrity of story 

Strengths of tour: 

  • Multiple sites that could be packaged together
  • Is a “connectivity” among sites 
  • Book on Niagara story and brochure – recognized producT
  • Willingness to share information and get message out 
  • Relationship among sites 
  • A lot of tours, but also a lot of stop-ins 
  • Currently it is a self-guided tour but opportunity to put together a guided tour 
  • Dedication of volunteers but it is also a weakness (need for more) 
  • Opportunities for packaging 
  • Variety of sites and events – creates opportunities 


  • Lack of co-ordination among events in region. For example on February 1st there were 3 black heritage events on the same night. Festivals and Events Niagara regional committee may be able to assist with this – improved scheduling and someone from Network should sit on this committee 
  • Bus tours who stop to look at site from bus or only give participants 5 minutes to tour site (no remuneration given to sites) 
  • Bus tour operators – poor relationship with sites 
  • Bus tour operators – may not be accurately interpreting history – risk of misrepresenting the sites 
  • Not as many tangible sites as in Windsor 
  • Niagara is the story 
  • Need for operators to experience the trail and be “trained” on the story
  • Opportunity to do a FAM tour on Black history in Niagara