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Josiah Henson and His Lumbering Operations in Canada

Josiah Henson was a prominent figure in the Underground Railroad and a successful fugitive slave in Canada. One of his major contributions to the community was his involvement in the lumber business. According to the article "Josiah Henson's Lumbering Operations in Canada" by Lois M. Jones, published in the Negro History Bulletin (1941), Henson realized the potential for the wasted forests in Canada and saw an opportunity to convert them into money, which could be used to establish a school in the community.

Henson went on a tour of the New England states, where he saw mills that could convert the logs he had seen in Canada into lumber. The black walnut, white wood, and other lumber were in high demand in industrial centers in New England, and Henson saw an opportunity to tap into this market. He invested in 200 acres of land covered with valuable trees and secured funding from philanthropic individuals he met on his tour. With these investments, he was able to build a sawmill and develop a successful lumber business.

In 1851, Henson traveled to London to exhibit his lumber at the World's Fair, and his efforts paid off. He made sales and was able to cancel the debts of the Manual Labor School in Dawn. During his time in London, Henson received a visit from Queen Victoria, who was impressed by his work. When he returned to Canada, he was awarded a bronze medal and received a beautiful portrait of the Queen and royal family.

Jones's article highlights the importance of Henson's contributions to the community, not just as a leader in the Underground Railroad but also as a successful businessman. This is just one example of the many prosperous settlements that were developed by the fugitive slaves in Canada. The farms were usually 50-100 acres, and the fertile soil was ideal for growing crops like wheat, corn, tobacco, and hemp, as well as vegetables like potatoes, string beans, and turnips.

In conclusion, Josiah Henson was a visionary who saw the potential for the forests in Canada and was able to turn this potential into a successful business venture. He not only helped others escape slavery through the Underground Railroad, but he also made a significant impact on the community through his lumbering operations.

Works Cited:

Jones, Lois M. "Josiah Henson's Lumbering Operations in Canada." Negro History Bulletin, vol. 4, no. 7, 1941, p. 155-157. JSTOR, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

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