In 2013, students at Clinton Public School produced a book on Albert Jackson, the first African Canadian postal worker in Toronto. Jackson was born into slavery in Delaware and escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad only to face racial discrimination in his new home. He ultimately became the city’s first black letter carrier and was one of the few people of colour to serve as a civil servant in 19th-century Canada.
Following ERA’s collaboration on Welcome to Blackhurst Street as part of the Mirvish Village redevelopment, A Different Booklist approached ERA to help extend the life and reach of the students’ book on Jackson by supplementing the text and artwork with archival material. ERA ended up doing the graphic layout, too.
Jackson’s story is the subject of increasing recognition. In 2012, a laneway in Harbord Village was named after Jackson who owned several properties in the neighbourhood and, in 2013, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers recognized his legacy with a commemorative poster. On July 21st, Heritage Toronto will unveil a plaque in his honour.
Numerous community members and institutions generously offered information, photographs, and other support for the book. A Different Publisher and ERA would like to thank the Jackson Family, the Ontario Black History Society, Karolyn Smardz Frost, Patrick Crean, Janet Walters at Toronto’s First Post Office Museum, Chris Bateman at Heritage Toronto, Sandra Foster, Ron Fainfair, and LaShawn Murray.
The Story of Albert Jackson was recently launched at Mayworks Festival, an annual event that promotes worker rights for decent wages, healthy working conditions, and quality of life through the support of diverse artists and their creations.
ERA is proud to contribute to the dissemination of Jackson’s story through a growing network of community partnerships.
Event Photography courtesy of Itah Sadu, A Different Booklist.
Book layout images courtesy of ERA Architects.