On one of my recent days off, we decided to head to Owen Sound, specifically Harrison Park which is one of our favourite places to visit in the Owen Sound area.
It was my intention to hike to Weaver Creek Falls with the dog and then maybe a short bit on the Bruce Trail which can be easily accessed through the park. Once we got there however, things changed a bit – but for the better.
While I was getting the dog out of the car, Lynn headed off down a plowed trail that runs along the river towards the north end of the park. As she was happily snapping pictures, Katie and I continued along the trail eventually coming a small parking area at the park’s northern entrance.
What Katie and I where walking on is the “Freedom Trail.”
Much to Lynn’s bewilderment, I find great joy and excitement researching and if possible discovering the history of places that we adventure to. I find if we’re out on a trail and we come across old foundations or something like that, when we get home I try to “google” see if I there is any information on what they might have been. For me knowing about something on a trail makes the adventure have much more fullfillment and meaning.
I had known that Owen Sound had history with the Underground Rail Road, but that was about the extent of it.
So, when I came across this sign post and an adjacent board which briefly outlined the purpose of the Freedom Trail, lead me to “surf’ around the Town of Owen Sound’s website to gain some further insight into the connection and history of the area and the Underground rail Road.
Owen Sound was the last northern terminus for the Underground Rail Road. The Underground Rail Road was the largest North American freedom movement, the secretly transported the majority of escaped slaves from the Southern States to the Northern US and Canada.
Not far from the marker noted in the picture above is a Black History Cairn explaining the route taken by those forced into slavery and their escape to freedom in Canada. The cairn was designed by the descendant of a former slave who sought freedom in Owen Sound. The cairn contains stones from Africa, slave and free states, and Canadian border points to mark the journey north.
The part that we were hiking on is part of a 10km self-guided walking tour to places within the town where former slaves and their descendants lived, worked, attended church and were laid to rest and Owen Sound’s memorials to their struggles.
These are a couple of pictures Lynn took just off the trail in Harrison Park.
I guess the point of this is, that history surrounds us where ever we are. We don’t necessarily have to travel to the ends of the Earth to find it. A simple hike through a park in Owen Sound opened an afternoon of researching and reading all the history you wanted.
In addition, reading and learning about Owen Sound’s involvment in the Underground rail Road, kind of made me feel proud to be Canadian.