Lakeshore's Underground Railroad museum to receive free roof renovation

·2 min read
A log house at the John Freeman Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum will receive a new, free roof. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)
A log house at the John Freeman Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum will receive a new, free roof. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)

A historic site in Lakeshore is getting a new roof for free.

A log house at the John Freeman Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum will have a roof with steel shingles that will make it water-tight.

"We hope that this is a step toward continuing the theme of reconciliation for past, I guess you would say, 'sins of the ages'," said Tim Eansor, owner and president of Double AA Metal Roofing, the company behind the donation.

The roofing company has donated one roof every year for the past 12 years, and they decided to give this year's roof to the museum.

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

Bryan Walls, president of Proverbs Heritage Organization, the charity that runs the museum, said caring for the site is a "labour of love."

"I've taken it very seriously, and it's become part of God's purpose for my life, my wife, my daughter and others that have that desire to want to preserve history," he said.

Eansor and Walls signed and dated one of the shingles that would be used in the new roof to seal their commitments to the project as well as reconciliation efforts.

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

Paul Mullins, a lawyer who is helping with the restoration projects, said the roof would cost roughly $20,000. Mullins also helped with the restoration of Assumption Church.

The roof at the museum site is one of multiple renovation projects planned for the nine buildings on the site, and Walls said the total cost of all the projects would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Walls said the log house was donated by Lakeshore resident Frank Little, whose ancestors provided hospitality for people using the Underground Railroad.

"The house itself underscores the message of the Underground Railroad," said Walls.

"Good people, Black, white and different races and faiths working in harmony for freedom and justice."

Eansor believes that the restoration projects will make the museum site a popular place to visit.

"I think it has a great potential to be a fantastic museum someday," he said. "The historical nature of it, and the Underground Railroad make it a very moving place."

The museum website says John Freeman Walls, a man who fled slavery, built the two-storey log cabin in 1846. He and his wife Jane raised nine children there. It was also the first meeting place of the Puce Baptist Church.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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CBC