Kenora family talks ties to 12 Years a Slave ahead of Oscars
Hollywood blockbuster 12 Years a Slave features character based on Canadian man
The film 12 Years a Slave has racked up nine Oscar nominations, and CBC has found a Canadian connection to the film, not far from Winnipeg.
The film is a true story that follows Solomon Northup, a man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the southern United States in 1841.
Eventually, a Canadian man, Samuel Bass (played by Brad Pitt) befriends Bass and agrees to help free him.
Now, Bass’ real-life relatives are living in Kenora, Ont.
Laurie Morris is the great, great, great, great granddaughter of Bass.
“Well, my mother called me after she had been contacted, and she was thrilled,” said Morris. “Of course we’re all thrilled and very proud.”
A CBC team in Toronto went looking for Bass’s descendants when the movie launched last summer, and then the Morris family started to connect the dots.
A photo found in an old family album showed Hannah Bass, the man’s daughter.
And in archives, in the family found old letters with Bass’s signature.
In the film, Bass writes letters to Northup’s family. Those letters later garnered attention from the authorities in New York, which ended up freeing Northup from slavery.
“[It’s a] once in a lifetime experience to find out something, um, so positive and you’re linked to it,” said Morris.
She said there is still one thing missing from her family’s history – they don’t know where Bass was buried.
“We don’t know where he ended up,” she said.