43 St Paul St, Toronto, ON
In honour of Black History Month, a newly designated North-South laneway running parallel to Bright Street and St. Paul Street will be officially named Henry Box Brown Lane. Additionally, a horizontal laneway intersecting Henry Box Brown Lane will be officially named North Star Way.
Henry Brown, an enslaved man from Louisa County, Virginia, lived from 1815 to 1897. In 1849, he courageously escaped the chains of southern slavery by nailing himself into a shipping crate, ultimately finding safety in Philadelphia. From there, he made his way to Toronto, Ontario, to share his remarkable story.
Following his emancipation in Toronto, Brown dedicated himself to educating people about the injustices of slavery. His autobiography and the accounts of those who knew him served as powerful tools in achieving this mission. While in Canada, Henry Brown supported himself as a magician and performer. In 1887, "The Brown Family" participated in a benefit concert at St. Lawrence Hall, contributing to the community while residing on Bright Street in Corktown. The unveiling of Henry Box Brown Lane is scheduled for February at noon, marking the commencement of Black History Month in 2024.
Adjacent to Henry Box Brown Lane, on its North side, a horizontal laneway will be named North Star Way, symbolizing the connection to the Underground Railroad and the ongoing struggle for black emancipation.
The North Star, often referred to as Polaris, served as a guiding light for navigation, aiding travellers in determining direction. Known as the "Going Home Star," this celestial marker played a crucial role during the Civil War and holds significance in various stories and publications. Additionally, the North Star and its symbol carry cultural importance for both indigenous and non-indigenous communities across Canada. To the First Nations Cree people, the North Star signifies "The one that never moves," embodying the resilience of Indigenous community spirit. The unveiling of North Star Way is anticipated to take place on February 1st at 12:00 PM along with the unveiling of Henry Box Brown Lane, in celebration and recognition of the first day of Black History Month in 2024.