As the 90th Annual Buxton Homecoming took place, the area’s youth did its part to help ensure the history of its ancestors lives on for generations to come.
The four-day event kicked off Friday with a number of historical guest speakers, a baseball tournament Saturday and parade on Monday in North Buxton.
Shannon Prince, curator of the Buxton National Historic Site & Museum says this year is special, celebrating nine decades of heritage.
“I tell people it’s returning to your roots and reconnecting with where you came from. It’s a renewal of your soul and spirit,” said Prince.
The popular event is a chance for the thousands of participants to connect with old friends and explore their history. Visitors travelled from as far as New Brunswick, Seattle, California and Michigan to attend.
The Buxton Settlement, founded in 1849 by Reverend William Black as the Elgin Settlement, was one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad and a safe haven for blacks escaping slavery.
Today, Buxton is recognized for being the largest black settlement in Canada at one time and second largest National Historic Site of Canada in Ontario.
One of the highlights of this year’s event was a special re-enactment developed by the Buxton’s Next Generation (BNG) group.
“Sunday is a memory day for me because of the re-enactment,” said Prince. “Since we’re celebrating 90 years, the theme is ‘Buxton Through the Decades.’”
Prince is proud of the group for becoming so involved and continuing a legacy.
“They are having kids of their own and they are saying, ‘Now I want to share this of you,’” said Prince.
The re-enactment, set up on an outdoor stage on the fairgrounds, was primarily written by BNG’s 29 year-old Blair Newby and 24 year-old Shauna James.
The pair wanted to depict a special event or moment through each of the last nine decades and share it with the hundreds who attended.
James used Arlie C. Robbins’ 1983 book Legacy To Buxton as a foundation for some of the re-enactments.
“This was probably the first book that was written about Buxton so to some people it’s almost like The Bible,” said Prince.
Depicting the 1950s cases of discrimination in Dresden, Ont., the development of the National Unity Association and how settlers would have coped with the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s – these were just a handful of moments shared.
Newby hopes that anyone who saw the performance takes away a new understanding of the vastness of Buxton’s rich history.
“We don’t have to go back to when the Elgin Settlement was in existence to recognize that,” said Newby.
“There were so many things that happened in the last nine decades that needed to be highlighted to many of the people who weren’t around for that time,” Newby added.