Thursday, March 4, 2010

PRADS African Night a Success: Part 2

The Peace River African Descendents Society (PRADS), which was started in 2009, held cultural experience with dinner and music on Saturday, Feburary 20th. Laura Gloor of the Museum had been invited to talk about black pioneers in the area. The information from her wonderful presentation has been reproduced here in two parts!

Part 2: The Kelly Family

The timeline for the Kelly family is uncertain. It is believed that Mr. and Mrs. Dan Kelly brought their family to Peace River in the 1920's. We can only speculate that the Kelly family were likely part of the original wave of Black American immigrants to Canada's West between 1908 and 1911. Dan Kelly was known as "Nigger" Dan, years after Dan Williams, who was also known by that name.

Dan Kelly hauled the honey wagon in Peace River (an essential service that pumped out residential outhouses ). He and his family lived just outside the Belle Petroleum Centre in a house still standing today. This same house was purchased from the Kelly's by Dave and Johanna Steedsman in 1937 and Dave also took over the job of hauling the honey wagon. Near this home was a popular sledding hill for the children of Peace River colloquially known as "Nigger" Hill even as late as the early 1960s.
Unfortunately, none of the names of the other members of Dan's family are known, except that one of his daughter's name was Emma. It is known though that his three daughters had beautiful singing voices. It seems the family moved to Toronto to give the girls a better chance to pursue their singing careers and that Dan later returned to Peace River on his own. He lived with a single mother in town, and it was believed that a child resulted from this union.

Here are some more pictures from the PRADS event:

The band, Ezeadi Onukwulu & One Human Race, had everyone up and dancing!

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