Anderson Abbott

Anderson Abbott was born in Upper Canada in 1837 to a prominent African-American family who had left Alabama. He is also known as the first Canadian-born Black Canadian to be licensed as a family physician. Abbott’s career included participation in the American Civil War. Significant roles included coroner of Kent County, Ontario, and surgeon-in-chief. In 1894, Abbott was appointed surgeon-in-chief at Provident Hospital in Chicago, the first training hospital for Black nurses in the United States. He became the hospital’s medical superintendent in 1896.

Abbott’s contributions weren’t just restricted to the medical field either. He was elected a member of the local post of the Grand Army of the Republic and one of 273 Civil War veterans in Toronto to wear the badge of that fraternity. He was then known as “Captain Abbott,” a rank which might reflect his office within the Grand Army of the Republic rather than his actual rank during the American Civil War. In November 1892, Abbott was appointed aide-de-camp on the Staff of the Commanding Officers Dept. of New York. A source of great pride for Abbott and his family, this was the highest military honour ever bestowed on a Black person in Canada or the United States.


Charles Roman

Dr. Charles Roman was an internationally respected medical figure and a well-known author about whom much has been written in the United States. However, in Canada he is not well-known and very little has been written about his Canadian family connections and his upbringing in Burford, Dundas, and Hamilton, ON.

Dr. Roman had surgeon, professor, author, editor, philosopher, and civil rights activist as feather’s in his cap. He grew up in Dundas, Ontario, and was the first Black person to graduate from Hamilton Collegiate Institute in Hamilton, ON. After an accident in his teenage years, he went on to become an internationally respected surgeon and educator, writing and editing several books and periodicals and was frequently called upon as a keynote speaker. Roman’s influence can still be seen in the historical manifesto of the National Medical Association, an organization which represents the interests of more than 30, 000 African-American physicians and the patients they serve.


William Peyton Hubbard

William Peyton Hubbard was born in 1842 and was a Toronto alderman from 1894 to 1914 and was one of the first politicians of African descent elected to office in Canada. Hubbard was born in a cabin near the intersection of what are now Bloor Street and Bathurst Street. His parents were American slaves who had escaped their plantation in Virginia and reached Canada in 1840 via the Underground Railroad. Hubbard was trained as a baker and invented and patented a successful commercial baker’s oven, the Hubbard Portable.

In politics he was known as a reformer armed with a sharp wit and powerful oratory skills. Hubbard was also known for his strong sense of public duty. He made his name fighting for public ownership of Toronto’s water and hydroelectric supplies. He was appointed to the Toronto Board of Control, the city’s powerful executive body, in 1898 and argued to have the body directly elected by the people. He won the election to the body in the first citywide election in 1904 becoming the first and only person of colour to win a city wide election in Toronto’s history.

Filed under: Black History Month