Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site
Josiah Henson Interpretive Centre.
|Location||Dresden, Ontario, Canada|
Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site is an open-air museum and African American history centre near Dresden, Ontario, Canada, that includes the home of Josiah Henson, a former slave, author, abolitionist, and minister, who, through his 1849 autobiography The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself, was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's title character in her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. The 5-acre (20,000 m2) complex is part of the original 200 acres (0.81 km2) of land purchased in 1841 to establish the Dawn Settlement, a community for escaped slaves.
The original Henson cabin was located on a different location nearby and opened as a museum in the 1940s by an area farmer, William Chapple. The house was moved to the existing location in 1964 by J.D. Thomson, and subsequently was owned and operated by Kent County, Ontario and then the St. Clair Parkway Commission. Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site has been owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust since 2005.
Site facilities include:
- Josiah Henson House - Josiah Henson lived in the cabin during much of his time in the area, from 1841 until his death in 1883. Although the cabin has been moved more than once, it remained on the original Dawn Settlement lands. Opened as a museum in the 1940s, it was moved to its present location in 1964, and restored to an 1850 appearance in 1993–94.
- Josiah Henson Interpretive Centre - a visitor centre and museum with 19th-century books and artifacts related to abolition and Henson's life. The North Star Theater offers educational films.
- Underground Railroad Freedom Gallery - features the geographic journey and history of enslaved people in the United States, from the path from Africa through slavery in the United States, and on to freedom in British North America. The gallery also includes exhibits about the life and times of Josiah Henson.
- Outbuildings: a sawmill, smokehouse, and an 1850 pioneer church—including the pulpit from the original church from which Rev. J. Henson preached in Dresden
- Harris House - one of the oldest houses in the area, and one of several final stops on the Underground Railroad
- Henson Family Cemetery - adjacent to the church, the cemetery includes a Josiah Henson memorial stone and National Historic Plaque. Across the road is the burial ground for the Dawn Settlement and the British-American Institute, a school started by Josiah Henson.
- A gift shop
- Harriet Beecher Stowe, A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin 1853, p. 42, in which Stowe states "A last instance parallel with that of Uncle Tom is to be found in the published memoirs of the venerable Josiah Henson..." This also is cited in A Routledge Literary Sourcebook on Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin by Debra J. Rosenthal, Routledge, 2003, pages 25–26.
- http://www.heritagefdn.on.ca/userfiles/HTML/nts_1_7784_1.html Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site
- Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site, near Dresden, Ontario
- National Historic Person plaque, and cemetery photo near Dresden, Ontario
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