Black History Month featured fonds: Gerald A. Archambeau

Detail from a page of Gerald Archambeau's scrapbook, featuring a photograph used to identify him as a tradesperson. Written around the pasted down image are the words "I WAS A TRADESMAN IN OLD MONTREAL."

Page from personal scrapbook by Gerald Archambeau

One of most recent donations from the community is a small cache of documents relating to the life and family genealogy of Gerald A. Archambeau.

Gerald A. Archambeau is a Canadian citizen (b.1933) who emigrated from Jamaica to Montreal in 1947. He was the first black adolescent to join the Canadian Naval Cadets in Montreal in 1948, and the first black telegraph messenger to work for the Anglo American Telegraph Company. Archambeau worked as a passenger car attendant for the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway in the 1950s. From 1967 to his retirement in 1993, Archambeau worked worked as a station attendant for Air Canada at the Malton (now Pearson International) airport.

Archambeau wrote an autobiography of his experiences as an immigrant to Canada.  Titled "A Struggle to Walk with Dignity: The True Story of a Jamaican-born Canadian", the book covers his experiences working on railways and his efforts to reform labour conditions for porters working in the rail industry. Part of his donation included scrapbooks of biographical information documenting his experience leaving Jamaica, settling in Montreal and his experience of race relations, labour issues and politics in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.

First page of a personal scrapbook created by Gerald Archambeau detailing aspects of his personal history and philosophies. Includes magazine clippings and illustrations, a black and white portrait of Archambeau in a suit and tie, and includes many phrases and quotes with a central inscription "[message from the chairman] THIS IS MY BOOK, AND MY OPINIONS SO READERS OF MY BOOK BE KIND."

First page of a personal scrapbook created by Gerald Archambeau detailing aspects of his personal history.

The archives also contains genealogical information related to Archambeau's paternal grandfather Herbert T. Thomas' and includes Thomas' own memoirs The Story of A West Indian Policeman, or, forty-seven years in the Jamaica constabulary from 1927.

These materials may be of interest to researchers studying the immigrant experience in Canada, labour history (particularly in the areas of transportation) and colonial history of Jamaica.

Link to finding aid here.

Link to earlier story about donation here.



Comment on “Black History Month featured fonds: Gerald A. Archambeau

  1. Would there be the slightest chance of you being able to send me a copy of the photo of my Aunt Phyllis. I'm Gerald's cousin in the UK. Thanks, Charles Slaney

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