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Uncle Tom's Cabin, Dresden

4.7
#2 of 6 in Sightseeing in Chatham-Kent
Historic Site Tourist Spot
Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site is an open-air museum and African American history centre near Dresden, Ontario, Canada, that includes the home of Josiah Henson, a former slave, author, abolitionist, and minister, who, through his 1849 autobiography The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself, was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's title character in her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. The 5acre complex is part of the original 200acre of land purchased in 1841 to establish the Dawn Settlement, a community for escaped slaves.The original Henson cabin was located on a different location nearby and opened as a museum in the 1940s by an area farmer, William Chapple. The house was moved to the existing location in 1964 by J.D. Thomson, and subsequently was owned and operated by Kent County, Ontario and then the St. Clair Parkway Commission. Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site has been owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust since 2005.Site facilities include: Josiah Henson House - Josiah Henson lived in the cabin during much of his time in the area, from 1841 until his death in 1883. Although the cabin has been moved more than once, it remained on the original Dawn Settlement lands. Opened as a museum in the 1940s, it was moved to its present location in 1964, and restored to an 1850 appearance in 1993–94. Josiah Henson Interpretive Centre - a visitor centre and museum with 19th-century books and artifacts related to abolition and Henson's life. The North Star Theater offers educational films. Underground Railroad Freedom Gallery - features the geographic journey and history of enslaved people in the United States, from the path from Africa through slavery in the United States, and on to freedom in British North America. The gallery also includes exhibits about the life and times of Josiah Henson. Outbuildings: a sawmill, smokehouse, and an 1850 pioneer church—including the pulpit from the original church from which Rev. J. Henson preached in Dresden Harris House - one of the oldest houses in the area, and one of several final stops on the Underground Railroad Henson Family Cemetery - adjacent to the church, the cemetery includes a Josiah Henson memorial stone and National Historic Plaque. Across the road is the burial ground for the Dawn Settlement and the British-American Institute, a school started by Josiah Henson. A gift shop The Museum is affiliated with: CMA, CHIN, and Virtual Museum of Canada.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
32 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • Excellent presentation film and background talk at start of tour, very interesting historical museum and site. Highly recommended. Warrior193.  more »
  • It has been many years since we last visited Uncle Toms Cabin and museum. Our guide was relatively new on the job, but did a great job with the background story and information on the tour. The whole ...  more »
  • I grew up in Chatham and have since moved West. Our kids, born in Saskatchewan, have not been exposed to this important part of Canadian history. It was important to me that we visit the site. Staff w...  more »
Google
  • Excellent historical information. Displays are well done. I was disappointed by the washroom facilities (there was a lot that was out of stock or out of order). While we did arrivedl a little over an hour before closing, the guide in the building as well as the person at the cash in the gift shop were very short and kept reminding us that we only had an hour. I thought that was odd as we were told they recommend an hour for the visit (and we had a little over an hour). We were up front when we arrived and knew we had a short amount of time. We asked to see the 12 mins video at 3:20 and were told no because it was 'too late'. We just didn't feel very welcome overall. The presentation of information is very well done. The gift shop had many unique items and I was impressed by the selection of children's books for sale. There was a cool resource in the church about hymns and their origins including some sung on plantations and others by Harriett Tubman. I would rate the site a 5 when it comes to historical information, a 3 for facilities and a 2 for staff interaction with visitors.
  • An important contribution to Canadian History that many are not aware of. Historical landmark. Took my family to pay our respect and learn about Josiah Henson's hardships on Canada Day.
  • A great place to learn about the history of the black community in Southern Ontario. I was impressed with it as a historical site.
  • A wonderful historic site...brought out of country guests here for an afternoon of discovery and learning...a film is shown and an onside and outside area to walk through. Very enjoyable time.
  • Wonderful historical site with an abundance of information. Very glad we came.

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