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Albert Block, Corner of Clarence and Dundas Street
Shadrack Q. Martin, London's best known Black Barber owned his own barber shop located in Albert Block (which was found on the southwestern corner of Dundas and Clarence Street).
Backstory and Context
Shadrack Martin was born a free man in Tennessee in 1833 and came to London when he was 21. By this time, he had been well trained in the barbering trade and applied his skills in London. He returned to the United States to escape the depression of the late 1850s and worked as a barber on Mississippi River boats. He enlisted in the Union forces in 1861 at the behest of a captain of a Mississippi River gunboat who wanted Martin as a personal steward. Martin remained on the gunboat until 1863 when he returned to London. Back in London, Martin continued his barbering business in his own establishment located in Albert Block, on the southwestern corner of Dundas and Clarence, which is noted in London's 1878-79 directory.
Barbering was a traditional Black occupation throughout North America, a fact stemming in some cases from local by-laws requiring Blacks to serve White customers only. In London's 1878-79 directory, almost a quarter of the men listed were barbers however, many did not own their own business like Shadrack Q. Martin.