John Freeman Walls Historic Site & Underground Railroad Museum, Lakeshore

#3 of 7 in Things to do in Lakeshore
Specialty Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
The John Freeman Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum is a 20acre historical site located in Puce, now Lakeshore, Ontario, Canada, about 25 miles east of Windsor.
To some the Underground Railroad is thought to be just that, a series of underground railroads that were built to hide and transport former slaves that were seeking to escape from the southern areas of the United States. In actuality it was a web of hidden, interconnected, man-made paths that were shrouded by forests and brush which assisted in the concealment of former slaves until they could reach a Refugee Terminal. These routes had two things in common. They all headed north and towards the free soil of the northern United States and Canada; and at various points along the way they all intersected with Refugee Terminals where runaway slaves could take shelter and would be given food and clothing. Despite the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which stated that “any federal marshal who did not arrest on demand any person believed to be a runaway slave could be fined $1000. As for the runaway slaves themselves, they would be arrested and stripped of any and all civil rights”. During the era of the Underground Railroad, the site was among one of several major termini in Southwestern Ontario for fugitive slaves. These locations represented the end of a slave's long journey to freedom where he/she could receive shelter and support until they were ready to move on and begin their own new lives in Canada. As it developed, the site became an important nexus for both the local black community and newly arrived fugitive slaves from the southern United States. Today, many of the original buildings remain, and in 1985, the site was opened as an Underground Railroad Museum. The site forms part of the African-Canadian Heritage Tour in Southern Ontario.
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John Freeman Walls Historic Site & Underground Railroad Museum reviews

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  • If you want to step back in time and feel what it was like to be a part of the Underground Railway, this is the place to go!  more »
  • This is a very interesting museum and historic site with authentic structures from the Underground railroad to freedom. It is run by Dr. Bryan Walls, a direct decedent of John Freeman Walls; the...  more »
  • It got us in touch with what those people went through. There are Graves there with markings. They might have made it to Canada but they obviously did not survive much longer than that! The real Underground Railroad Museum is in Amherstburg. We didn't realize that until we were back in the United States. For that reason I was very disappointed because I didn't get to see much of the tooling or anything else that they used it during those times. It is poorly signed... You can see the sign of a little bit coming from the other way but it has tree branches hanging down low covering it from the opposite side. I don't know the directions things were going... We didn't have a compass.
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