Award winning author, historian and archaeologist, Dr. Karolyn Smardz Frost, will be a visiting scholar in Canadian Studies at Yale University next semester.
The annual fellowship is offered to scholars who specialize in Canadian Studies in a comparative or international context.
“It’s a pretty big deal and an enormous honour,” said Smardz Frost who was Canada’s representative to the World Archaeological Congress for a decade. “This is a career pinnacle along with the Governor General Award and recognition of the importance of African-Canadian History in the African Diaspora.
“Beyond a great personal honour, it is also an opportunity to share new research about enslaved African-Americans who escaped to Canada before the American Civil War and played a pivotal role in extending the Underground Railroad – the route to freedom – north across the border.”
Smardz Frost authored I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land – which won the Governor General Award for non-fiction — that recounts the extraordinary lives of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn who came to Canada via the Underground Railroad and arrived in Toronto in 1834, becoming prominent and prosperous citizens.
The Blackburns established the first cab company in Upper Canada and the first form of public transportation in the province. They also owned six homes in the city that they rented to other fugitives fleeing slavery in the U.S.
The holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology, a Master’s in Classical Studies and a PhD in Canadian History, Smardz Frost has won many research fellowships in both Canada and the U.S. In 1998, she presented Canada’s Underground Railroad story at Robben Island where former South African president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.
Smardz Frost founded Toronto’s Archaeological Resource Centre that provided hands-on excavation and educational opportunities for more than 100,000 schoolchildren, tourists and volunteers.
While at Yale, she will offer courses in Canada and the Underground Railroad and African-Canadian History. She said she was offered the fellowship for teaching methodology and research.
“As has become my trademark in teaching, I engage students in public history projects,” she said.
The 2010 TVO Best Lecturer finalist recently received funding to continue research on a new book about the connections between New England and Canada’s Maritime provinces in African-Canadian History. She will be cross-appointed to Yale’s History department.
Smardz Frost is the senior research fellow for African-Canadian History at York University’s Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples.
By RON FANFAIR