Archival material at CTASC related to Black Canadian Studies

Over the years, the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections has acquired material which preserves the histories of the lived experience of Black Canadians. This post highlights a selection of fonds which contain a significant portion of records with content related to Black Canadians. Additional material can be found using CTASC's descriptive database.

Archival fonds from the Black Canadian community:

  • Archie Alleyne, musician, philanthropist, and influential figure in the Toronto jazz music scene 
  • Gerald A. Archambeau, Jamaican-Canadian, 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 
  • Jean Augustine, Grenada-born Canadian politician, teacher, and community organizer, who was the first female candidate of African descent to be elected to Parliament 
  • Inez Elliston, Jamaican-Canadian educator, writer, policy consultant, and leader in community volunteerism, first coordinator of the Multiculturalism and Race Relations Committee for the Scarborough Board of Education
  • Carl James, Antiguan born scholar who is known for his work with Toronto's marginalized communities (particularly racialized African Canadian children and teenagers) and research on equity as it relates to race, class, gender and citizenship 
  • Obsidian Theatre Company, a leading black theatre companies in Canada and community advocate 
  • Beverly Noel Salmon, nurse, politician and prominent anti-racism and community activist, was the first Black female commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the first Black woman elected municipally in Toronto 
  • Kenneth Shah, early Caribana organizer and band lead
  • Yvonne Vera, prominent Zimbabwean writer of English fiction who immigrated to Canada
  • Home Made Visible collection contains home movies from the Black Canadian community 

 Archival fonds containing material related to the lived experience of Black Canadians:

  • Ernesto Vinci contains material related to Portia White (a Canadian contralto, known for becoming the first Black Canadian concert singer to achieve international fame) 
  • Toronto Telegram fonds contains photographs pertaining to events in Toronto related to the Black Canadian community (ex: Emancipation Day and Caribana)
  • Robert Witmer collection, contains recordings and other documentation related to Black Canadian artists (predominantly Jamaican and jazz musicians) 
  • Mariposa Folk Foundation fonds contains recordings and other documentation related to Black Canadian artists
  • Toronto Downtown Jazz Society fonds contains recordings and other documentation related to Black Canadian artists 
  • Music Gallery fonds contains recordings and other documentation related to Black Canadian artists
  • Lee Lorch, civil rights activist and mathematician who mentored Black students 
  • Don Simpson, founder of the African Students Foundation which brought 300 Africans to study in Canada during the 1960s
  • Wanda MacNevin, community activist who lived in the Jane and Finch community for sixty years, studied the history of the neighbourhood, and collected community newspapers

Selected highlights in Special Collections from the community or pertaining to lived experience of Black CanadiansOld newspaper titled Voice of the Fugitive

Other resources

Researchers may also be interested in the library's "African Diaspora" research guide which highlights subscriptions to digitized packages of primary source material and "Records Related to Black Communities in Ontario" research guide at the Archives of Ontario which is situated on Keele Campus.


CTASC acknowledges that many of these resources contain historical language which includes problematic, unclear, or harmful language that is no longer considered appropriate today. If you have feedback about the finding aids or require assistance with archival research, please email to reach a member of our team.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *