Fugitives escaping slavery in the United States flocked to Chatham during the 1850s. View the artifacts from that era at the Buxton National Historic Site and Museum to learn about their northern path to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Visit their original schoolhouse, ring the site’s liberty bell and see a log cabin built in 1852.
Learn how Chatham earned its nickname as Black Mecca at the Black Mecca Museum run by the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society. Research black ancestry in the Kent Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society in the Chatham-Kent Public Library.
About a 30-minute drive north of Chatham is another log cabin on the grounds of Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site. See the home of the Reverend Josiah Henson, a former Maryland slave whose writings inspired the famous anti-slavery book by Harriet Stowe. By creating broad awareness of harsh enslavement conditions, Uncle Tom’s Cabin influenced the abolitionist rift that led to the American Civil War.
For other cultural pursuits, attend live performing arts at the Kiwanis Theatre and investigate visual arts at the Thames Art Gallery. Visit the Chatham-Kent Museum to see natural history items including artifacts from the War of 1812, a 1919 Gray Dort touring car and a Nubian mummy more than 2,000 years old. Enjoy fine dining and entertainment at the area’s restaurants and nightclubs. Do a tasting at wineries and breweries in the region.
Chatham’s location between Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River provides extensive opportunities for water-based activities. Swim, fish, boat, waterski and scuba dive in these waters. On land, play golf, hike, go horseback riding and hunt for migrating birds.
The city of Chatham is part of Chatham-Kent at the southern tip of Ontario Province. Drive here in about 1 hour from Detroit, Michigan or 3 hours from Toronto. Follow some of the scenic and historic touring routes in the region, popular for motorcycle rides as well.