Despite the frigid December weather or the early hour, the community of North Buxton lined the A. D. Shadd Road to welcome the 2010 Olympic torch on its journey. Marc Hillier bore the Olympic torch to the Buxton Museum where he was greeted by cheers. (A video of this event was created and posted by Jim Shreve on Flickr.) Mr. Hillier concluded his portion of the route by ringing the Buxton Liberty Bell.
Mrs. Joyce Middleton, President of The Buxton Historical Society, welcomed the bearer and flame on behalf of the Buxton Museum. In her greeting, Mrs. Middleton shared how deeply freedom was and continues to be valued in North Buxton. She also explained that the Buxton Liberty Bell is a most treasured symbol of freedom.
(The Buxton Liberty Bell was a gift to the Elgin Settlement in 1850, sent by a Black Presbyterian congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with the request that the bell be rung as a reminder of brethren still in bondage. Indeed during the settlement era, the Buxton Liberty Bell was rung every morning and evening, each time a slave reached freedom in the settlement, or to warn of an emergency.)
Just as Marc Hillier passed the Olympic flame to Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons, of the Toronto Argonauts’, the first rays of the sun were beginning to dawn. Mr. Clemons began his leg in the relay as a torchbearer with a joyful ringing of the Buxton Liberty Bell.
Mr. Clemons arrived in North Buxton with information, "I did the research on my own. I'll be coming back to do some deeper studying as we go on."
"They told me there was an opportunity to be here by the Underground Railroad," Pinball Clemons said, a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. "This is of such great significance to me being an American, just like those on the Underground Railroad who came to Canada.”
"My mom went to an all-segregated high school and that was in 1964 in Florida," said Mr. Clemons, 44, who lives in Oakville. "One hundred and fifteen years, over a century before that, the first integregated school was started here in North Buxton in 1849 by William King, a Presbyterian minister. He thought black students, given the opportunity, could perform as well as white students. The first six graduates, I believe, (were) five doctors and one was a teacher. That's amazing."
“This is just absolutely amazing,” Mr. Clemons said. “I can’t put into words what this means to me and what this would mean to my Mom if she were here today.”
To start his leg of the relay, Mr. Clemons began running backwards – in order to honour the slaves who first settled in Buxton and in Canada. “There’s a little bit of symbolism there,” he said.
Following the 2010 Winter Olympics Torch ceremony, visitors were invited inside the museum where an assortment of shortbread cookies and mulled cider were shared. The museum board is grateful to Diane Handsor, Audrey Prince, and Shannon Prince for the countless hours they spent organizing, preparing, and meeting to co-ordinate this event.