History of slavery at Windsor heritage home being examined

Camille Turner is in Windsor unearthing a history about the Baby House in Windsor that some may find hard to believe.
The Baby House in Windsor has a history of slavery that isn't widely known. 2:48

A researcher from Toronto is working to bring a forgotten part of Windsor's history back to life.

Camille Turner is in Windsor unearthing a history about the Baby House in Windsor that some may find hard to believe.

The story of Francois Baby dates back 200 years. Baby was a prominent French-Canadian politician. His Windsor home was used as a headquarters during the War of 1812.

"I was going by the Baby House one day and I noticed on the sign it had all kinds of information about Francois Baby, but it didn't mention anywhere that he was a slave owner," Turner said. "So I really wanted to find out the stories about the people that lived and worked in this house that weren't mentioned."

Much of the information Turner is relying on comes from the book Canada's Forgotten Slaves, by Marcel Trudell. It indicated the Baby family owned about 20 slaves.

"People are shocked, and they're shocked because these stories aren't out there," she said.

Alana Bartol, program coordinator with Neighbourhood Spaces, a new socially engaged artist-in-residence program, is working with Turner.

In the last week, they've met with University of Windsor professors, historians, archivists and citizen researchers and a direct descendant of Baby's.

Once Turner gathers the research she needs, she'll go back to Toronto and start writing. She plans to create a sonic walking tour in Windsor, similar to the ones she's created in Toronto. It will tell stories of Canadian slaves through voice actors.

"You've got the headphones on, what you're seeing becomes the visuals for the story. It makes the story come alive," Turner said. "It's very different than reading a plaque."

Bartol called the project "important."

"I think this is a part of our history out community's history that isn't talked about," she said.

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