historian Irene Moore Davis before cameraA film crew records historian Irene Moore Davis as part of a project documenting stories of Sandwich.

Films to document history of Sandwich

Lights, camera, action! A series of three short documentaries began filming in Leddy Library this semester to capture the history of Sandwich Town.

Following the success of the 2020 film The North was our Canaan, the Leddy Library’s Centre for Digital Scholarship in partnership with the Essex County Black Historical Research Society launched a new project, Across the River to Freedom: Early Black History in Sandwich Ontario, to share chapters of Sandwich Town’s history.

Directed by Anushray Singh (MFA 2020) and produced by local historian Irene Moore Davis and Leddy librarian Heidi Jacobs, these documentaries will continue the story and share more voices of descendants residing in historic Sandwich.

The project, designed to preserve the history and spark larger community interests in learning and understanding the Black history embedded within the streets of Sandwich, was one of eight to receive the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Organization Investment Grant to better communities closest to the construction of the new bridge.

“At present, much of the information about Sandwich history available online is cursory and often not based upon the most current research,” said Dr. Jacobs. “Across the River to Freedom will be meticulously researched and documented and will be designed to be both accessible and scholarly.”

The Centre for Digital Scholarship is also partnering with students from the Master of Museum Studies program in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information and its Exhibition Project course to build a companion website to complement the documentaries. This website will feature resources for teachers, a walking tour with audio podcasts, a digitized photo gallery and archive, and research essays.

“We are fortunate to be working with an incredible team of researchers, film makers and experts on this project,” said Jacobs. “Our team at Leddy Library is generously sharing access to expertise, equipment, staff, and technology to help support, preserve, and share the important historical research done by the Essex County Black Historical Research Society.”

The film crew and researchers are working closely with colleagues in the Leddy Library Archives and Special Collections to build a digital archive of historic ephemera related to Sandwich history.

“By bringing this history to life through meticulously researched films, contextual essays, and mapping, we are encouraging residents in Windsor and Detroit to come visit Sandwich, either in person or virtually,” said Jacobs.

The team expects to launch the film in June 2022.