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Media Release

HISTORIC SHUTTLE BUS TOURS TO KICK OFF BLACK HERITAGE DAY IN FORT ERIE

FORT ERIE, Ontario, July 28, 2003 - Fort Erie’s unique black heritage will be showcased this Saturday at Black Heritage Day which will “kick off” with free shuttle bus tours to six historic sites.

Organized by the Fort Erie Black Heritage Committee, the tours will start at Riverwalk (Niagara Boulevard near Queen Street) and run from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. This free shuttle bus will carry visitors to the Mahoney Doll House Gallery & Slave Quarters; the Railroad Museum (which will feature a special Underground Railroad Exhibit); St. Paul’s Anglican Church Cemetery; Old Fort Erie (which will host a talk on blacks in the military); The Crossing; and, finally, the new Riverwalk situated on Fort Erie’s beautiful waterfront. The shuttle bus will run continuously making stops approximately every twenty minutes. The last pick-up will be 3:45 pm.

“What makes this tour such a terrific opportunity for people to learn about Fort Erie’s black heritage”, explains Wilma Morrison, Committee Member, “is that people can stay for as long as they want at any site, and then get back on the bus to continue their tour. The Committee thought that this was the best way to maximize each person’s enjoyment of the day”.

At the same time as the tour, the Fort Erie Public Library will be hosting an Underground Railroad Children’s Scavenger Hunt. “We’re pleased to have complemented the Library’s terrific summer program for children”, stated June Spear, Committee Member and site participant (Mahoney Dolls House Gallery & Slave Quarters). “Parents and their children can be taking the bus together to these important sites and sharing a terrific learning experience”.

At 3:45 pm, the tour will stop and a one-hour event will take place at the Riverwalk featuring Storytelling and Negro Spirituals. The public is reminded to bring their lawn chair for this very special experience.

The event’s main sponsor is the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority. Additional support has been provided by the Economic Development & Tourism Corporation, Niagara Parks Commission, Fort Erie Public Library and Fort Erie Museum. “We were delighted”, stated Jane Davies, “that the Black Heritage Committee embraced the loop tour concept to promote Fort Erie. It’s something we’re encouraging in the marketing of Fort Erie’s rich history”.

This is the eighth year that the Fort Erie Black Heritage Committee has hosted an event to recognize the experience of fugitive slaves who fled the US to Canada in the mid to late 1880’s. Numerous accounts describe the Niagara area, and Fort Erie, as one of the main routes to freedom.