Lines of Flight

Finding the tracks of Canada’s missing black history

The first thing I wanted to do after reading Karolyn Smardz Frost’s previous book, I’ve Got a Home in Gloryland: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad, was run down the Esplanade to the public school and tell all the black children about the neighbourhood’s history. This was in 2007. I was living at 2 Market Street, across from St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. My children had attended Market Lane School, and when I occasionally dropped by to deliver a lunch, the littlest black kids would pause and stare. I would be wearing a dress and carrying books, and they thought I might be a black teacher. This made me sad. I knew they noticed their teachers were white, and that they were not, and that—in some vague way—they were outsiders in their school and neighbourhood.

But I’ve Got a Home in Gloryland celebrated the area’s black history. It is the true story of African Americans Lucie and Thornton...