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Dr. Alfred Shadd Virtual Exhibit

This exhibit is a tribute to Dr. Shadd and his work. Dr. Alfred Schmitz Shadd was the first person of African ancestry known to settle in what is now Saskatchewan. The WDM would like to thank the Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum Inc. and the Melfort & District Museum for working with us on this virtual exhibit.

Photo of Dr. Shadd memorial blankets in the Melfort & District Museum. Click on image to enlarge.
Dr. Shadd portrait, date unknown. Photo courtesy Melfort & District Museum. Click on image to enlarge.

Coming to the Northwest Territories from Ontario to teach, Dr. Shadd later returned with a medical degree and established himself as a pillar of the Melfort and Kinistino (formerly Carrot River Settlement) communities.

Dr. Shadd was a busy man. He had a full career as a doctor but also found time to work for local government, run for provincial and federal government seats, publish and edit a newspaper, manage a farm and maintain a social life.

Though he faced discrimination at first upon his arrival in the Northwest Territories, the community quickly grew to accept him and he became an important and well-respected figure.

“Rain or snow, road or no road, didn’t stop the doctor. If there was no trail for the buggy or cutter he would take horseback.” Tribute in the Melfort Moon for Dr. Shadd after his death.


Use the map below to see locations with connections to Dr. Shadd in Saskatchewan.



Dr. Alfred Schmitz Shadd was born in 1869 in Kent County, Ontario, near the settlement of Buxton. He came from a family of respected Black educators, journalists and abolitionists who resided on both sides of the Canada/US border. His grandfather, Abraham Doras Shadd, had come to Canada in the early 1850s after the United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act. Continue reading >>


Dr. Shadd earned his medical degree from the University of Toronto in 1898, and then chose to return to the Northwest Territories to practice medicine. He originally lived with the Lowries, who had hosted him in his teaching days, but soon built his own home in their yard.

It wasn’t long before Dr. Shadd earned a reputation as an excellent doctor in the area around Kinistino. Continue reading >>


Dr. Shadd purchased his first plot of land in Saskatchewan in 1900 when he bought a farm across the river from the Carrot River settlement. In 1902, he applied for a homestead, and then applied for patent on that land in 1905. Under the Dominion Lands Act, certain tasks had to be completed on the land before ownership of the land officially transferred to the homesteader. Continue reading >>


Dr. Shadd was a teacher in Ontario before moving to Saskatchewan. He worked at the Buxton School in Kent County. Buxton School was known for the quality education it provided to its students, regardless of race. Families would move to the area specifically so their children could attend the local school. Continue reading >>


Dr. Shadd first attempted to get involved in politics in the 1902 Northwest Territories election when he ran as a Conservative candidate. He was defeated but appears to have maintained friendly relations with the successful candidate, F. W. Meyers. He ran on a platform of decentralized government and local autonomy. Continue reading >>


In 1906, Dr. Shadd married Jeannette (Jennie) Simpson, an immigrant from Scotland. They had two children together: a son, Garrison (named for Dr. Shadd’s father), in 1910 and a daughter, Lavina in 1912.

The Shadds were active in their community. They regularly received visitors and hosted meetings of a youth group in their home. The couple also hosted distinguished guests such as Sir Frederick Haultain, first Premier of the Northwest Territories. Continue reading >>


Dr. Shadd was the first person of African ancestry recorded living in the territory that is now known as Saskatchewan. He came from an extraordinary family in Ontario, with notable family members such as his aunt, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, a prominent abolitionist and the first Black woman in North America to publish a newspaper. His family was involved in the Underground Railroad and were strong advocates of equal and desegregated education. Continue reading >>


Teacher Resources

Looking for resources for your students in Grades 8 – 12? CLICK HERE to visit our Reflection Questions Resource.

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Melfort and District Museum,
Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum and
Western Development Museum.
All Rights Reserved.


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