Buxton National Historic Site and Museum
The Buxton National Historic Site & Museum is located just outside the city of Chatham. Started in 1849 by Rev. William King, an Irish born Presbyterian minister, the Buxton Settlement was established as a safe haven in which to extend freedom to the 15 slaves he acquired through a variety of circumstances. Under Rev. King’s guidance and with the assistance of some Canadian abolitionists, a 9000-acre tract of land was purchased. The goal of the founders was to build a self-sufficient, self-sustaining community for both fugitives and free blacks.
Backstory and Context
Today Buxton is inhabited by descendants of the original settlers dedicated to preserving a rich heritage and the Buxton National Historic Site & Museum is the nucleus of these efforts. In addition to permanent and travelling exhibits of settlement artifacts, the museum houses a library and research centre of papers significant to North American black history. The site also preserves the original schoolhouse and cemetery.
For more than 95 years, on Labour Day weekend, a Homecoming is held in Buxton. During this four-day celebration, thousands of people return “home” to renew ties with their roots and with their family and friends. The Buxton area was recognized by the Canadian Government in 1999 as a place of National Historic Significance.
We invite you to visit here where you will find the evidence of 150 years of the life of this unique Underground Railroad community. We hope that as you leave you will be left with a feeling of hope, inspiration, of friendliness and of family.
Mrs. Isaac Riley did not have the same enslavement experience as the previous two men. She experienced kindness and even found it difficult to leave when she arrived to Canada. She also believed that sometimes she was treated just as well as the white people. Mrs. Isaac Riley was a resident of Buxton for many years.