Colour of Birth Gallery

artifact Media Gallery

Welcome to our small, yet beautifully rich community. There is a stark, historical under-representation of birth, the working lives of women and in particular the work of midwives of colour who lived in early settlement communities during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This study has had the goal to examine the hidden histories of racialized midwives in Canada, beginning with Black midwives in Canada.

Throughout this gallery, you will have the ability to see some of our findings and the many ramifications of our work and what we have been able to uncover to date. 

Stick around, you might even surprise yourself with the amount of knowledge we will present to you!

This project combines the talents of historians, researchers, archivists, and storytellers to create a virtual database to collect the identities, artifacts and birth stories of midwives and traditional birth attendants.

Oro African Museum

Click Icon To Read More

View of the “Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church” from outside which is now the Oro African Museum. Image shows a wood building with sign above the door.

PLAQUE

Click To Read More

A plaque located at the Oro African Museum that acknowledges the memory and influence of black immigrants to Oro. This plaque was created to honour the 150th anniversary of the church.

PLAQUE 1947

Click To Read More

A plaque located at the Oro-African Museum dated 1947 and lists the names of the families that helped establish, worshipped at, and who are now buried at the Church.

PLAQUE 1812

Click Here To Read More

A plaque located at the Oro African Museum identifies the site as the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada by the Government of Canada. Plaque also explains the vital role that the African-Canadian residents of Oro played during the war of 1812.

FROM A DISTANCE

Click Here To Read

This image shows the Oro-African Museum from a distance. It is a small building with two windows on the side and a chimney in the middle.

Alvin Duncan

Benedict Duncan who left the United States

Image of Alvin Duncan, descendent of formerly enslaved person Benedict Duncan who left the United States and became a pillar of the black community in Oakville, Ontario. Alvin Duncan lived in the Oakville community until his death in 2020 and was an active historian in the area.

Duncan Family

Click to play Audio

Image of the Duncan Family, many individuals holding musical instruments. (date unknown) Credit to the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (Permissions Unknown)

Jean, Alvin and Isabella

Click to play Audio

Image of the Duncan Family, many individuals holding musical instruments. (date unknown) Credit to the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (Permissions Unknown)

Birthing Stool

Amherst Freedom Museum

Image of birthing stool now housed by the Amherst Freedom Museum. Birthing stools such as this were used by midwives throughout Canada.

Permissions: Mary-Katherine Whelen (Curator/Administrator)

mk.whelan@amherstburgfreedom.org

Wood Burning Stove

Click to play Audio

Image of a wood burning stove where water would have been boiled to sterilize instruments for childbirth. Stove is housed at the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia in Cherrybrook, Nova Scotia. 

 

Well Pump

Used for Washing Pieces of Cloth

“Epsom salts is for the bath water. It supposed to relax your body and the tensions. Many of things were tense during pregancy, because well during those times, moms didn’t have the hospitals and the doctors per se.

Logo

Colour Of Birth

“Sousou a practice where by women in the community that they tried to save money. A group of women, say about five or ten women would get together. Each week they would contribute, two dollars, or three dollars, or fifty cents to the group. What they did was to give one person the sum of money and each week someone else would get the savings. Apparently many of them didn’t trust the banks so they trusted each other in collecting the money and sharing it with each other.”

Logo

Colour Of Birth

“Epsom salts is for the bath water. It supposed to relax your body and the tensions. Many of things were tense during pregancy, because well during those times, moms didn’t have the hospitals and the doctors per se. Just the idea of giving birth would create a tension. In some cases, not always, but in some cases the male was absent and all of that strain became the woman’s burden to bear, so tensions were high. And you know us. We don’t verbalize a lot; we internalize. So in those cases, in those situations, anything to relieve tension and to relax a person was used”