The Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum and the Shiloh Baptist Church and Cemetery Restoration Society are planning to celebrate a little known part of Saskatchewan history at an event Saturday, Aug. 3.
With the placement of a plaque at the site of Shiloh Baptist Church and Cemetery near Maidstone, the designation of the site as a heritage property will be recognized. The event will run from 2 to 5 p.m. with the unveiling of the plaque at 3 p.m. Various dignitaries have been invited.
Minister of Parks, Sport and Culture Gene Makowsky ordered the designation of the Shiloh Baptist Church and Cemetery as a Provincial Heritage Property after a public review period was concluded on Aug. 28, 2018.
He wrote “Provincial designation will formally recognize this property for its association with the history of African American settlement in Saskatchewan. As the only known surviving building from the first African American farming community in the province, the Shiloh Baptist Church and Cemetery illustrates the important role African American settlers played in shaping the identity and culture of Saskatchewan.”
From 1909 to 1910 Julius Ceasar Lane and Baptist minister Joseph Mayes and wife Mattie Mayes, residents of Creek County, Okla., led a group of African American families to Saskatchewan. Canadian border entry records show at least 75 individuals representing 12 different families arrived, listing their destination as Maidstone. The church, Shiloh (first registered as Charlow) Baptist Church for people of African descent began use in 1916. The cemetery was used from 1913 to 1945 and holds what is believed to be 38 graves from the Shiloh community.
The Canadian censuses list the following for numbers of people of African descent in Saskatchewan.
1901 - 6
1906 – did not show racial origin
1911 - 307
1916 - 488
1921 - 336
1926 - 288
From 1916 on, the majority were in the Maidstone/North Battleford area. However, more than a few are listed in Humboldt, Maple Creek, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon, Weyburn and other places.