Skip to content Skip to main navigation
STORIES / Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Shadd Cary left a lasting legacy of abolition and education in Toronto’s fight for racial equality and social justice.

A portrait illustration of Mary Ann Shadd Cary.

Abolitionist, Educator, and Publisher

Mary Ann Shadd Cary was born in Delaware to abolitionist parents. She moved to Pennsylvania at the age of 10, where she attended school and became a teacher. Active in the Underground Railroad, she and her family moved to Ontario in the 1850s after the passage of the Slave Fugitive Act. Shadd Cary became the first Black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada, founding and editing The Provincial Freeman in 1853. She also established a racially integrated school for Black refugees in Windsor, Canada.

Smith’s efforts laid the foundation for modern children’s library services, leaving a lasting impact on Toronto’s library system and the countless readers whose lives have been enriched by the libraries she helped shape.

Explore more women who transformed Toronto.

Further Resources
Explore Myseum’s interactive digital exhibition 1851: Spirit & Voice, a theatrical revisiting of the 1851 North American Convention of Colored Freemen – featuring Mary Ann Shadd Cary
Read about Shadd Cary in The Canadian Encyclopedia
Learn how Shadd Cary’s impact is still felt today

Myseum is your
Toronto museum.

Our engaging programs and experiences showcase the history, spaces, culture(s), architecture, and the people, that represent Toronto’s unique place in the world.


Sign up and be the first to hear about upcoming events and experiences presented by Myseum.