George Brown College: Leap of Faith Mural

Myself, three other students and staff from the Institute without Boundaries and the School of Design collectively worked on a mural over several months commemorating the story of Lucie and Thornton Blackburn.

The Blackburns were freedom-seekers and fugitives of slavery, people who took immeasurable risks to gain their liberty, staging an elaborate escape from Kentucky, and journeying north to Detroit, and eventually to Canada. Settling in Toronto, they became successful entrepreneurs and are credited with starting the city’s first taxi company, called the City Cab. Little was known about their story until an archaeological dig on the grounds of the Sackville School (today Inglenook Community School) in 1985 unearthed the remains of the Blackburns’ home. The dig led site director Karolyn Smardz Frost to spend more than two decades researching the lives of the Blackburns in slavery and freedom.

“Leap of Faith” traces the journey, struggles and achievements of the Blackburns and emphasizes the need to recover and piece together the histories of Canadian African American pioneers.