Ruth’s Story

Ruth Barrow illustration


You decide the Grands are right. When you’re in a brand new place, it’s more comfortable to be with people who understand you.

The privately-run school is run by a graduate of Knox College. On your very first day, this young schoolmaster says that he wants his school to be, “free to all, irrespective of colour.” You count the children in the room. Of the thirty-five children, six are white.

This is the second time the schoolmaster has tried to set up a school: the first community he tried wouldn’t let him. “Said it was too close to their school …”

Your teacher is pleased with your progress.

“You should consider the Normal School in Toronto, Ruth. You’d make an excellent teacher. And things are different in Toronto — you know Emeline Shadd?”

“Mary Ann Shadd’s sister!”

“Precisely! She received top honours at the Normal School a few years ago.”

Teaching would be a good way to help other free children. It would help you prepare for running a newspaper, too — that’s what Mary Ann Shadd did.

But you know the Grands are struggling. Maybe you should find work — after all, they’ve helped you so much. You feel like it’s your turn.

Do you continue your education, or try to find work to repay the Grands?