Archaeologist and historian, Dr. Karolyn Smardz Frost is this year’s keynote presenter when the 156th Owen Sound Emancipation Festival gets underway at Grey Roots Museum and Archives on the evening of Friday August 3rd. Frost will deliver the annual Les MacKinnon Memorial Address with an illustrated presentation based on her most recent book Steal Away Home. The incredible but true story of the amazing Cecelia Jane Reynolds who, at only fifteen years of age in 1846, crossed the Niagara River to find freedom and a new life in Toronto. Learning to write, she soon undertook to correspond with the person who once owned her person. The twenty-year correspondence with her former mistress Fanny has no parallel in the annals of American slavery.

Karolyn Smardz Frost has earned countless accolades for her work as archaeologist, educator, and author of award-winning books. Her landmark achievements include the 1985 excavation of the first archaeological dig on an Underground Railroad site in Canada.

That unique experience prompted Frost to write a highly praised biography of Lucie and Thorton Blackburn entitled ‘I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad’ — the first book on African Canadian history to win the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Currently on an impressive roll, Frost’s Steal Away Home won the Speaker’s Award as best Ontario non-fiction book, the Ontario Historical Society’s prestigious J.J. Talman Award for the best book in Ontario’s social, economic, political and cultural history and was a finalist for the Atlantic Book Award.

Saturday events include the traditional Ancestor’s Breakfast in Harrison Park commencing at 9:30 a.m., followed at 10:30 a.m. by the annual Memorial Cairn Ceremony with guest participants Town Crier Bruce Kruger; cairn designer, Bonita Johnson de Matties; Peter Lemon, Jim Hong Louie; Owen Sound Poet Laureate, Lauren Best and Nova Scotia Senator, The Honourable Wanda Thomas Bernard.

A special Saturday highlight at this year’s festival is the appearance of Maple Blues award-winning recording artists Blackburn whose album ‘Blackburn: Brothers In This World’ has garnered much airplay. This marks a special coming home for these celebrated performers whose father the legendary R&B icon Bobby Dean Blackburn, has been a musical mainstay of the annual festival. A musical jam featuring Blackburn on Saturday, August 4 represents a bonus attraction at the long-running picnic and is not to be missed!

Rounding out the 2018 festival and building on last year’s success there will be a Gospel Music concert in the Moreston Village barn at Grey Roots on Sunday, August 5, starting at 11am. David Sereda & the Gospel Circle, The Millers N Thyme, and special guest Michael Dunston will share the stage in what promises to be a rousing sequel to last year’s inaugural concert.

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