October 2023 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first Black woman in North America to publish a newspaper. Her newspaper, The Provincial Freeman, fought for the abolition of slavery and the rights of women and helped people escaping enslavement adjust to life in Ontario. In Mary Ann’s words, she had “broken the editorial ice.” She hoped her example would inspire more Black women to write and publish.

Shadd Family Perspectives

Meet the great-great nieces and nephew of Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Listen to the personal stories of discovering their extraordinary, trailblazing ancestor and how it has affected their lives. Following in the footsteps of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the Shadd family are highly accomplished artists, writers and historians.


  • Adrienne Shadd, curator and author of The Underground Railway and The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway
  • Shannon Prince, curator of the Buxton National Historic Site & Museum
  • Ed and Maxine Robbins, retired educators who donated original records of Mary Ann Shadd Cary to the Archives of Ontario

Who Was Mary Ann Shadd Cary?

Learn more about Mary Ann Shadd Cary, a ground-breaking Black woman who challenged the system and led the way for rights of women. Scholars and historians share perspectives based on years of work and researching the life, publications and legacy of Mary Ann Shadd Cary.


  • Kristin Moriah, assistant professor of English at Queen’s University
  • Rosemary Sadlier, author and past president of the Ontario Black History Society
  • Rinaldo Walcott, author and professor and chair of Africana and American Studies at the University of Buffalo

Mary Ann Shadd Cary’s Influence On Black Journalism

Watch as prominent Black journalists and academics discuss Mary Ann Shadd Cary’s impact on journalism, as the first Black woman to publish a newspaper in North America and reflect on journalism in Canada today.


  • Nana Aba Duncan, journalist and associate professor, Carty Chair in Journalism, Diversity and Inclusion Studies at Carleton University
  • Rita Shelton Deverell, Chancellor, independent scholar, author and media artist
  • Allya Davidson, executive producer of CBC News’ The Fifth Estate


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