Speakers for the Dead

This documentary reveals some of the hidden history of Blacks in Canada. In the 1930s in rural Ontario, a farmer buried the tombstones of a Black cemetery to make way for a potato patch. In the 1980s, descendants of the original settlers, Black and White, came together to restore the cemetery, but there were hidden truths no one wanted to discuss. Deep racial wounds were opened. Scenes of the cemetery excavation, interviews with residents and re-enactments—including one of a baseball game where a broken headstone is used for home plate—add to the film's emotional intensity.

This film deals with mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised

From the playlist : Canada’s Diverse Cultures

You won’t find it in any history book but African Canadians inhabited the area near Priceville, Ontario in the 1830s. These were veterans of the War of 1812 who settled there after they were promised lands by the government but were forced to squat elsewhere when Whites were given the deeds to these lands. The Black community eventually disappeared but a link to this past remains: a cemetery. One that was later turned into a potato patch by a local farmer in the 1930s. Today, descendants of these settlers are trying to reclaim the cemetery but some members of the community feel it is best not to disturb the past. A powerful documentary on the connections to the past and the search for one’s identity.

— Albert Ohayon

Pedagogical evaluations and study guides are only available to CAMPUS subscribers.


Features designed specifically for teachers

Learn more   Already subscribed? Sign in.


David Sutherland
Jennifer Holness
Peter Starr
executive producer
Louise Lore
director of photography
Carolyn Wong
Denis Takacs
sound recordist
Sanjay Mehta
original music score
Tom Third
sound editor
Tim Roberts
Tim Roberts
foley artist
John F. Thompson
Miriam Davis
Sandra Holness
David Holness
Wayne Blackford
Enid Barnet
Caleb McMullen
Christopher M. Quinn
Irving Thomlinson
Andrew Bee
Rebecca M. Quinn
Jason Friesen
Leon Sutherland
Corey Warren


  • tinatina

    “Where any other tombstones found, besides the four found in the rock pile? Did they investigate the stable floor?” — tinatina, 3 Jul 2014

  • angel1

    “I remember reading in the Owen Sound Times back in the early 90s about these gravestones that had been plowed under in an apparent attempt to wipe out the existance of the black cemetery. I never knew how this story ended. There was also the attempt to change the name of Negro Road to something else - also located in Grey County. Such a shame this type of desecration has been done to real history while the fabricated history persists.” — angel1, 31 Mar 2013

  • Merrill

    “Beautiful film...and so necessary to be documented.” — Merrill, 25 Mar 2013

  • JudyDark

    “Wow. Thank you Jennifer Holness and David Sutherland. I am very grateful for films like this that enlighten me to a history i really should have known. I recommend watching this film alongside 'Seeking Salvation'. ” — JudyDark, 12 Nov 2010

Discuss this film Please sign in to add your comment
Not a member ? Click here