When you envision the pioneers of Alberta’s early days, you probably don’t imagine someone like William Allen and his family.
He was born into slavery in Georgia, and eventually headed north to Canada to escape the racism and violence of the Southern United States after an encounter with the Ku Klux Klan.
The Allens, along with 35 other Black families, settled in Keystone, Alberta in 1909. Within a few years, about 200 people lived in town. The isolated area allowed the Black community to flourish, away from the prejudice found throughout the rest of the province.
Just like the story of William Allen and Keystone, the achievements of Black Albertans are often washed over or ignored. Black History Month is a time to learn more about Black history and celebrate the accomplishments of people of African descent. As we come to the end of February, it’s important to keep discovering these stories all year long.
Discover many more stories about early Black settlers in Keystone and other pioneer communities through the Royal Alberta Museum’s new exhibition. I Am From Here shares the remarkable stories of the descendants of Alberta’s early Black pioneers, including stories from the community of Keystone. You can listen to spoken word stories from a tabletop jukebox, sit in a classic diner booth, welcome home a railroad porter or watch a film about one family’s quilting tradition.
I Am From Here opens March 23 in the museum’s Human History Hall. For more information, visit the Royal Alberta Museum website.