Ottawa Public Library – Main Branch
120 Metcalfe St, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5M2
As part of THE NFB IN LIBRARIES programming for Black History Month, the Ottawa Public Library will have multiple bilingual screenings throughout March throughout their 33 branches.
For more info, contact the organiser: biblioottawalibrary.ca
The Road Taken (Selwyn Jacob | 1996 | 52 min)
A nostalgic ride through history, The Road Taken documents the experiences of Blacks who worked as sleeping-car porters on Canada’s major railways from the early 1900s through the 1960s.
There was a strong sense of pride among the porters–they were well-respected by their community, and they had steady work and were able to provide for their families. Yet, harsh working conditions were a bitter reality and there were no opportunities for promotion to other railway jobs. Finally, in 1955, porter Lee Williams charged the railway companies and the porter’s union with discrimination under the Canada Fair Employment Act, and Blacks were able to work in other areas.
Interviews, archival photos, and memorable film footage of train travel combine with the music of noted Toronto jazz musician Joe Sealy, whose father was a porter, to reconstruct a fascinating history that might otherwise have been forgotten.