With the relaxation of employment barriers due to the war, African Canadians began a more concerted struggle for civil rights. The attitude had become, “if they can hire us in wartime, they can hire us anytime!” As a result of the pressure put on the provincial Ministry of Health and nursing schools by such groups as the Hour-A-Day Study Club of Windsor and the Toronto Negro Veterans Association, Black women were finally admitted for training and gradually employed in hospitals across Ontario by the late 1940s-early 1950s.

In the days before the street protests of the 1960s, African Canadians wrote letters, held meetings, sent delegations to Queen’s Park and Ottawa and staged sit-ins to protest their treatment. They aligned with progressive labour, religious and civil liberties groups.

As a result of the Read More
With the relaxation of employment barriers due to the war, African Canadians began a more concerted struggle for civil rights. The attitude had become, “if they can hire us in wartime, they can hire us anytime!” As a result of the pressure put on the provincial Ministry of Health and nursing schools by such groups as the Hour-A-Day Study Club of Windsor and the Toronto Negro Veterans Association, Black women were finally admitted for training and gradually employed in hospitals across Ontario by the late 1940s-early 1950s.

In the days before the street protests of the 1960s, African Canadians wrote letters, held meetings, sent delegations to Queen’s Park and Ottawa and staged sit-ins to protest their treatment. They aligned with progressive labour, religious and civil liberties groups.

As a result of these actions, the Fair Employment Practices Act (1951) outlawed discrimination in employment and the Fair Accommodation Practices Act (1954) made discrimination in public accommodations illegal. When companies flouted the law, Blacks directly tested their right to eat in restaurants, sit in movie theatres, skate at local rinks or rent the housing of their choice. Some companies were prosecuted and fined as a result. They started to get the message.

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved

Public Health Nurse

Public health nurse visiting a school, Toronto, 1956. As a result of the pressure put on the provincial Ministry of Health and nursing schools by such groups as the Hour-A-Day Study Club of Windsor and the Toronto Negro Veterans Association, Black women were finally admitted for training and gradually employed in hospitals across Ontario by the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Reproduced with permission of York University Archives and Special Collections

© York University Archives and Special Collections


The Banning of "Little Black Sambo"

Reproduction of book The Banning of "Little Black Sambo" from the Toronto Public Schools, 1956, by Daniel Braithwaite, Toronto, Ontario, 1978.

Paul Braithwaite

© Paul Braithwaite


Hugh Burnett in His Truck

Hugh Burnett in his truck, Windsor, Ontario, about 1945. Burnett, one of the leaders of the civil rights organization, the National Unity Association, led the way in court battles against restaurant owners who refused to serve Blacks in Dresden in the 1950s.

Cheryl Burnett

© Cheryl Burnett


Marissa Scott of Owen Sound

Marissa Scott of Owen Sound, one of the first nurses to graduate from an Ontario hospital in 1950, was the subject of much publicity when it became known that she had been denied entry into a number of nursing schools. Toronto-born, US-educated Bernice Redmon broke the barrier nation-wide when she went to work for the Nova Scotia Department of Public Health in Sydney in 1945.

The Grey Roots Archival Collection

© The Grey Roots Archival Collection, Owen Sound, Ontario


Campaign Pamphlet of Stanley G. Grizzle

Campaign pamphlet of Stanley G. Grizzle, the first Black to run for a seat in the provincial legislature as a CCF (a precursor to the NDP or New Democratic Party of Canada) candidate.

Stanley G. Grizzle

© Stanley G. Grizzle


Dresden Men Claim Threats Over Race Row

Newspaper clippings showing the evolution of events in Dresden from 1949 to 1956.

North American Black Historical Museum

© North American Black Historical Museum


Daley Orders Dresden Probe

Newspaper clippings showing the evolution of events in Dresden from 1949 to 1956.

North American Black Historical Museum

© North American Black Historical Museum


Once Barred In Dresden Cafe Negroes Now Get Yule Meal

Newspaper clippings showing the evolution of events in Dresden from 1949 to 1956.

North American Black Historical Museum

© North American Black Historical Museum


Dresden Negro Leader To Speak in Toronto

Newspaper clippings showing the evolution of events in Dresden from 1949 to 1956.

North American Black Historical Museum

© North American Black Historical Museum


Dresden Race Trial Jan. 17, 1956

Newspaper clippings showing the evolution of events in Dresden from 1949 to 1956.

North American Black Historical Museum

© North American Black Historical Museum


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • explain how Canada’s identity has been and continues to be shaped by its global participation;
  • comment on the political and social context of African Canadians between 1900 and World War II;
  • discuss civil rights of African Canadians from 1960 to now.

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