Unusual friendship is at the heart of York prof’s next book

[American slave girl Cecelia Jane Reynolds’] escape to Canada [in 1846] might have been forgotten by history had it not been for some remarkable letters preserved today, and now the basis of an upcoming book by archaeologist and historian Karolyn Smardz Frost, of York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Feb. 16.

She is giving a lecture about the story underlying her future book this Sunday in Ottawa, at the Black History Month luncheon lecture at Christ Church Cathedral on Sparks Street.

She doesn't present "a kinder, gentler slavery story. I'm very averse to that," she says, "but the relationships among people were as complicated as the circumstances, and they changed according to who people were and how they were treated."

"I am writing effectively a two-woman biography, one black and one white," Smardz Frost says. She follows both women's lives through many sources until they died, both many years after the war. The years had brought them together again; Cecelia in the end moved back to Kentucky, near her former owner in Louisville, and maintained contact with the Thruston family.