start navigation end navigation

New Ontario U-Haul SuperGraphic Showcases Underground Railroad

The story of the Underground Railroad is one of individual sacrifice and heroism among the enslaved, and the people helping them gain freedom. Abolishing slavery decades earlier than the U.S., Canada became a haven for enslaved people seeking freedom. “Conductors” such as the Reverend Josiah Henson and Harriet Tubman assisted many aboard the Underground Railroad, and more than 40,000 fugitives made it to Canada, the Promised Land.

On Saturday, August 22, 2009, guests gathered on five acres of land that were originally part of the 300-acre Dawn Settlement, an important Canadian historical site showcasing Reverend Henson and the lives of many fugitive slaves who found their freedom in Dresden, Canada. That afternoon, award winning actor/playwright Leslie McCurdy performed an excerpt from her play, “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman,” in which she came to life as Harriet Tubman, showcasing pieces of Tubman’s journey on the Underground Railroad and into the Promised Land.

Teaming up with Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, the U-Haul Companies of Eastern and Western Ontario (Co. 848 and Co. 839) and the U-Haul Media and Public Relations Department officially unveiled the newest SuperGraphic representing the province of Ontario. The unveiling ceremony took place at Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site in front of Reverend Henson’s home, known today as the Josiah Henson House, which is now being showcased on 1,700 U-Haul moving vans.

Marketing Company President (MCP) Jake Spelic, U-Haul Company of Eastern Ontario (Co. 848), had the honor of presenting plaques to dignitaries representing the province of Ontario, and special guests: descendents of the Reverend Henson himself. Recipients included Maria Van Bommel, member of Provincial Parliament (MPP), Lambton-Kent-Middlesex; Bob Bailey, MPP, Sarnia-Lambton; Councillor Bill Weaver, Council Ward 4 – North Kent, who was also representing Mayor Randy Hope, Chatham Kent; Councillor Steve Pickard, Council Ward 6 – Chatham; Councillor Art Sterling, Council Ward 2 – South Kent; Ruth Dudley, chair of the Advisory Committee, Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site; Steven Cook, site manager of Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site; Leslie McCurdy, actor/playwright, author of “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman”; Kathy Jenkins, great-great granddaughter of Reverend Henson; Barbara Carter, great-great granddaughter of Reverend Henson and Cathy Carter, great-great-great granddaughter of Reverend Henson.

To make the unveiling official, MCP Spelic invited everyone presented with a plaque to sign the SuperGraphic on the truck and pose for photographs.

To learn more about the Underground Railroad and how it helped more than 100,000 escaped fugitives during their flight to freedom, log on to uhaul.com/supergraphics.

The Henson House

The Henson House

MCP Spelic presents a plaque to Maria Van Bommel, MPP Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

MCP Spelic presents a plaque to Maria Van Bommel, MPP Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

MCP Spelic presents a plaque to Bob Bailey, MPP Sarnia-Lambton.

MCP Spelic presents a plaque to Bob Bailey, MPP Sarnia-Lambton.

From Left to Right: Maria Van Bommel, MPP Lambton-Kent-Middlesex; Steven Cook, site manager of Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site; Kathy Jenkins, great-great granddaughter of Reverend Henson; Kathy Carter, great-great-great granddaughter of Reverend Henson; MCP Spelic, (Co. 848); Barbara Carter, great-great granddaughter of Reverend Henson; Bob Bailey, MPP Sarnia- Lambton; Ruth Dudley, chair of the Advisory Committee, Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site; Councillor Bill Weaver, Council Ward 4 – North Kent; Councillor Art Sterling, Council Ward 2 – South Kent, and Councillor Steve Pickard, Council Ward 6 – Chatham, pose in front of the officially unveiled SuperGraphic.

Ruth Dudley, chair of the Advisory Committee, Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site signs the truck after explaining that U-Haul today, like The Underground Railroad did years ago, takes people to new-found freedom and on their journey through life.

The porch of the Henson House at Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site served as the stage for the Ontario unveiling event.

The porch of the Henson House at Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site served as the stage for the Ontario unveiling event.

Descendents of the Reverend Henson, Kathy Jenkins, Barbara Carter and Cathy Carter pose in front of the Ontario SuperGraphic aft

Descendents of the Reverend Henson, Kathy Jenkins, Barbara Carter and Cathy Carter pose in front of the Ontario SuperGraphic aft

Award-winning actor/playwright Leslie McCurdy performed an excerpt from her play, “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman.”

Award-winning actor/playwright Leslie McCurdy performed an excerpt from her play, “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman.”

Share |