Digital Exhibitions → Derailed: The History of Black Railway Porters in Canada → Discussions and Resources
The following is a non-exhaustive list of resources including articles, documentaries, books, and organizations about various topics surrounding Black Railway Porters in Canada.
This list is meant as a starting point for learning and reflecting about the history of Black railway porters and contemporary conversations shaped by their legacy.
Click here to explore our award-winning digital exhibition Derailed: The History of Black Railway Porters in Canada, a collaboration between Myseum of Toronto and Cecil Foster.
Articles & Porters in the News
- A century ago Winnipeg railways became ‘birthplace’ of fight for black Canadian workers’ rights – CBC
- Black railway porters and their decades-long fight for fair wages and a safe working environment – CBC Radio
- Black Sleeping Car Porters – Canadian Museum of Human Rights
- Canada’s Sleeping Car Porters Blazing The Civil Right Trail – Complex
- Demeaned, overworked and all called George: How Black train porters transformed Canada – Toronto Star
- How Black Train Porters Helped Birth a Multicultural Canada – Global News
- How Black Train Porters Helped Put Canada on Track – The Globe and Mail
- Hilliard Morris Shares His Time on the Rails – Windsor Star
- How the Black Sleeping Car Porters Shaped Canada– Cranbrook History Centre
- Interview with Cecil Foster and feature on Railway Porters TVO – The Agenda
- “North of the Colour Line: Sleeping Car Porters and the Battle Against Jim Crow on Canadian Rails, 1880-1920,” Labour/Le Travail, 47 (Spring 2001), p.9-41 by Sarah-Jane (Saje) Mathieu
- Opinion: Story of Sleeping Car Porters Demonstrates Quebec’s Racist Past – Montreal Gazette
- Racism Colin Forbes Experienced Nearly Derailed His Career as a Politician but Now is the Basis of New Play – London Free Press
- Rapid Ray Lewis – The Canadian Encyclopedia
- Stanley Grizzle Remembered – CBC
- Sleeping Car Porters in Canada – The Canadian Encyclopedia
- The Porter: Building a Better Canada for All – Edmonton City as Museum Project
- The story of the Black Porters on Canadian railways – Radio Canada International
- The Untold Story of Canada’s Black Train Porters – CBC
- Toot Sweet: When jazz ruled Montreal – Canada’s History
- The Toronto Joint Labour Committee for Human Rights (TJLCHR)
In 1947 the Toronto Joint Labour Committee to Combat Racial Intolerance was formed, which later became the Toronto Joint Labour Committee on Human Rights. The initiative had strong support from the Steelworkers, Autoworkers, and Packinghouse Workers. Bromley Armstrong of UAW Local 439 and Stanley Grizzle of the Sleeping Car Porters were Black leaders in the Committee as it led a relentless campaign against racist practices by employers, landlords and businesses. Its work with community activists helped win the Ontario Fair Employment Practices Act in 1951 – some of the earliest human rights legislation in North America.
Documentaries, Film & Video
- The Road Taken, by Selwyn Jacob (free to stream on nfb.ca)
This 1996 documentary takes a nostalgic ride through history to present the experiences of Black sleeping-car porters who worked on Canada’s railways from the early 1900s through the 1960s. Interviews, archival footage and the music of noted jazz musician Joe Sealy (whose father was a porter) combine to portray a fascinating history that might otherwise have been forgotten.
- Journey to Justice, by Roger McTair (free to stream on nfb.ca)
This documentary pays tribute to a group of Canadians who took racism to court. They are Canada’s unsung heroes in the fight for Black civil rights. Focusing on the 1930s to the 1950s, this film documents the struggle of 6 people who refused to accept inequality.
- Welcome to Canada – Developed by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council
Long time union activist and co-founder of the NCA, Bromley Armstrong, sheds light on the circumstances around this historic moment.
- Sleeping Car Porters – Black Strathcona
From the early 1900s to the 1960s, the Eastside neighbourhood of Strathcona was home to Vancouver’s first and only black community. Black Strathcona is comprised of ten video stories that celebrate some of the remarkable people and places that made this community vibrant and unique.
- Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters– Historica Canada
In 1945, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with the Canadian Pacific Railway that included salary increases, vacation and overtime pay. It also gave porters like Stanley G. Grizzle the right to wear name tags so that passengers would call them by their names.
- Sleeping car porters and black immigration to Manitoba – CBC Archives
In this piece from 2000, CBC reporter Sandra Batson covers immigration of black communities to the Prairies and the struggles they encountered in Canada.
- Sleeping Car Porters: Lesson Plan (Gr. 5-10), created by Natasha Henry
- Lists of books, videos, and curriculum resources for incorporating the African Canadian narrative in the classroom, developed by Natasha Henry
Partners from Derailed Programs
- To learn more and follow the work of the Ontario Black History Society, visit their website:
- For more information on the City of Toronto Museums and Historical Sites:
- Meghan Swaby – Playwright, Writer of Derailed and Venus’ Daughter, Actor https://about.me/mswaby Twitter: @maYgn
- Cecil Foster – Transnational Scholar, Author of They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada
- For more information on Toronto & York Region Labour Council: https://www.labourcouncil.ca/
- Bromley L. Armstrong Award
Toronto & York Region Labour Council’s annual award in honour of Bromley L. Armstrong for outstanding service to the labour and human rights movements in Canada: https://www.labourcommunityservices.ca/bromley_armstrong_award
- For more information on Union:
- Past Exhibit at Union (with NIA Arts Centre): Thank You For Keeping Us on Track, by Jordan Sook
- For more on Toronto Railway Museum:
Check out their historic plaque on the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
- They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada, by Cecil Foster, Biblioasis, 2019.
Publisher’s Website: http://biblioasis.com/shop/non-fiction/they-called-us-george-a-history-of-the-black-train-porters-in-canada/
- My Name’s Not George: The Story of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters : personal reminiscences of Stanley G. Grizzle, by Stanley Grizzle with John Cooper
Toronto Public Library
- A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter, by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack”, Walker & Co., 1989.
- North of the Color Line: Migration and Black Resistance in Canada, 1870-1955, by Sarah-Jane (Saje) Mathieu, University of North Carolina Press. 2010
- From the Bottom of my Heart: Experiences of a Jamaican/Canadian doctor on four continents. By Colin E. Forbes, 2016
Bookstores for More Resources on Black History and Work from Afro-Carribean & Black Diaspora Authors
- A Different Booklist (downtown Toronto)
- Knowledge Bookstore (Brampton)
Porters Who Were Mentioned in the Derailed Digital Exhibition and its Associated Programs
- Stanley Grizzle
- Donald Moore
- Edsworth Searles
- Malcolm Streete
- Leo Chevalier
- Denzil Braithwaite
- John K. Crutcher
- Philip Randolph
- Michael Joshua Williams
- Harry Gairey
- Colin E. Forbes
- International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
- Garda Porter
- Ladies Auxiliary of the International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
- Ray Lewis
- Daniel Peterson
- Lee Williams
- Charles Ernest Williams
To learn more about specific porters, explore the following Digital Exhibits, Archives, and Collections…
Digital Exhibits and Archival Collections
- Archives of Ontario (Black Canadian History, Daniel G. Hill Fonds, Harry R. Gairey Sr Fonds, Multicultural History Society of Ontario Fonds)
- Black Women’s Association of Alberta
- Canadian Brotherhood of Railway, Transport and General Workers
- Canadian National Archives
- Canadian Pacific Archives
- City of Toronto Archives
- Concordia University Archives
- Exporail/Canadian Railway Museum
- Library and Archives Canada – Stanley Grizzle Fonds, Blog Article
- Multicultural History Society of Ontario
- Provincial Archives of Manitoba
- Provincial Archives of Alberta
- Toronto Archives – Digital Exhibit: Caribbean Connection: One Man’s Crusade (Donald Moore)
- Winnipeg Free Press