Born into slavery in 1789, as an adult Josiah Henson became a leader for black Americans escaping enslavement. Henson escaped to Canada in 1830, and founded the Dawn Settlement near Dresden, Ont. to provide a home for others like him.
He co-organized a trade-labour school and served on its executive, and made fundraising trips to the U.S. and England as the spiritual leader for Dawn. Some believe that Henson was the model for the lead character in the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.