Elgin (Buxton National Historical Site and Museum)
The most successful of the early Black communities was the Elgin Settlement, established in 1849 on a clergy reserve just southwest of Chatham by the Reverend William King, a Presbyterian minister from Ireland. He brought several freed slaves to the settlement that year, which, by the mid-1850s, had attracted over 1,000 other settlers, most of whom were former slaves. It became a very successful farming community, with its own limber mill, brick factory, and potash industry.
Backstory and Context
One of Elgin’s most significant accomplishments was the establishment of the Buxton Mission School, which gained a reputation for its high-quality education, attracting almost as many White students as Black.
Today, the community of Buxton is home to many descendants of the Elgin Settlement’s first inhabitants. The settlement was named for the Earl of Elgin, Governor-General of Canada, who agreed to support the use of the land, while the community was named for Sir Thomas Buxton, a British abolitionist who introduced the Emancipation Bill (1834) that freed almost 800,000 slaves, primarily in the British West Indies. The settlement is now a National Historic Site and a plaque is located next to the museum at 21975 A.D. Shadd Road.