delegates gathered on steps of Windsor’s First Baptist ChurchDelegates to the Amherstburg Regular Missionary Baptist Association at Windsor’s First Baptist Church. Photo by Alvin McCurdy, courtesy of the Archives of Ontario.

Walking tour to highlight history of local Black community

In the first half of the 20th century, Windsor was home to a dynamic Black community located in the metropolitan core. Situated east of the downtown commercial district, the McDougall Street Corridor was a mostly self-sufficient African Canadian community bounded loosely by Riverside Drive, Goyeau Street, Giles Street, and Howard Avenue.

This historic neighbourhood emerged during the mid-19th century as African American freedom seekers and free people of colour crossed the Detroit River in search of refuge from enslavement and oppression.

Its residents founded churches, businesses, social clubs, halls, and a credit union, but urban renewal policies destroyed these places in the name of progress and modernization.

A walking tour reclaiming this lost history combines research into its heritage, memories of its residents, and vintage photographs into video vignettes.

The McDougall Corridor Tour builds on a research project by Willow Key, a Master’s student in history. She worked with Heidi Jacobs and Sarah Glassford of the Leddy Library and Irene Moore Davis of the Essex County Black Historical Research Society to collect the stories. The resulting collection of essays, images, maps, artifacts, and documents is housed here.

That archive forms the basis of the tour, developed as a collaboration of the Centre for Cities at the Faculty of Law, the Essex County Black Historical Research Society, Parallel 42 Systems, the Leddy Library, and the School of Creative Arts.

Building on this archive, the tour is available here as a self-directed walk. Key will lead a guided tour Friday, May 5, as part of the 2023 Windsor-Essex Jane’s Walk Festival. It will leave from the parking lot outside Water World, 400 Wyandotte St. East., at 5 p.m.

The festival offers free neighbourhood walking tours and draws its name and inspiration from the late urbanist Jane Jacobs.

Other events in the series with a UWindsor connection include:

See the full schedule of walks on the festival website.