Image: Name, Title, Description
Digital Exhibitions → Derailed: The History of Black Railway Porters in Canada → Theme: Diplomats of the Railway
Black Canadian Railway Porters as Cultural Ambassadors
This monologue portrays the charismatic dreamer “Reginald”, a character modelled after Billy Downie, a Porter and the owner of Halifax’s first Black club, the Arrow. Performed by Derick Agyemang.
In an era of racial segregation, Porters linked Black communities across North America with the rest of society. They were smartly dressed at work and in their community. In their communities, they were the purveyors of the latest fashions, clothes they bought while on out-of-town stops. They brought back home the latest happenings in culture and the arts. As they travelled from gig to gig, they mingled with Black musicians such as the famed Canadian jazz musician Oscar Peterson. Along the way they introduced new Canadians to their new homes, regions and provinces, thereby helping to create a Canadian culture.