Black veterans of the War of 1812 were a trained fighting force in need of a place to live. They defended Canada in order to ensure that the United States, with its threat of enslavement, would not take over Canada. Sir Peregrine Maitland, Ontario's first lieutenant-governor, decided that the government would sponsor an African-Canadian community in northern Ontario that could become the destination for all Blacks hoping for settlement in Ontario.
Oro was placed strategically at Canada's “back door,” near the Penetanguishene Road south of Georgian Bay, called Wilberforce Street. Other veterans were also able to obtain land in the area, but their plots of land were twice as large as those given to Black people. However, the area was remote, and the land rocky and difficult to cultivate, so many of those who had taken up residence were compelled to leave their cleared land and move into Owen Sound, Collingwood, Barrie, or Toronto in order to find work and housing. Oro was the only government-sponsored settlement effort in over 400 years of a Black presence in Canada.
The Oro African Church: A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Edgar, Ontario
Articles, photographs, and stories about the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Edgar, Ontario. From the Our Roots website.
The Queen's Bush Settlement: Black pioneers, 1839-1865
Scroll down to page 26 for an account of the founding of the Oro Settlement on the western shore of Lake Simcoe. From Google Books.
Anti-Black Racism in Canada - A Historical Perspective
Scroll down the page for a brief history of the Oro settlement, the only government sponsored Black settlement in Canada. From a paper prepared by the Ontario Black History Society.
The Black Settlement in Oro Township
About the history of the Oro settlement, which became home to veterans of the War of 1812, formerly enslaved Africans, and others. From the website for the County of Simcoe.
A virtual exhibit featuring the life and career of local teacher Walter Rolling. Also chronicles the Rolling family’s journey from the US to King Township. From the website for the King Township Public Library.
A history of Oro Township, the only government-sponsored Black settlement in Upper Canada. From the Ontario Heritage Foundation.
Our Roots: Oro African Church
This online digitized book includes a collection of articles about the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Oro.
A brief synopsis of Stones, William Bell's novel about Black settlers residing in the Oro Township. From BookClubs.ca.