Karolyn Smardz Frost - Adjunct Professor

Photo courtesy of Timothy Hudson
PHONE: 902 585-1905


Karolyn Smardz Frost is an adjunct professor at both Acadia and Dalhousie Universities, and was a Harrison McCain Visting Professor at Acadia for 2013-2016. She was honoured to be appointed the Bicentennial Visiting Professor for Canadian Studies at Yale University (2012-2013). A Research Fellow for African Canadian History at the Harriet Tubman Institute, York University, she also works with the Archaeology Lab at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) researching Underground Railroad sites in Niagara Falls, New York.

An historian, archaeologist and award-winning author, Karolyn’s teaching focuses on primary research methods, public history and archaeology, urban and cultural history, and the creation of public memory. She is engaged in investigating the direct connections between Loyalist-era slavery and the University of King’s College, Nova Scotia, in collaboration with noted African Nova Scotian historian David W. States.

Karolyn’s personal research program explores African American/Canadian transnationalism during the era of the New England Planter migrations to Maritime Canada. She is investigating the life and times of Liverpool merchant Simeon Perkins, preparatory to writing his biography in the context of the West Indian trade and associated issues of race and slavery in Maritime Canada.

I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad (2007), representing more than 20 years of archaeological and historical research on Karolyn’s part, is based on the life and times of freedom-seekers Thornton and Lucie Blackburn. It was the first book on African Canadian history to win the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Karolyn’s volume was also the runner-up for the Albert B. Corey Award, awarded jointly between the Canadian and American Historical Associations as the best volume on Canada-US relations over a two-year period.

Karolyn Smardz Forst is co-editor of The Archaeology Education Handbook: Sharing the Past With Kids (2000); co-author of The Underground Railroad: Next Stop, Toronto! (2002); and co-editor of Ontario’s African-Canadian Past: The Writings of Fred Landon, 1918-1967 (2008). Her co-edited volume, A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Freedom and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderlands (Wayne State University Press, 2016), won the Michigan Historical Society Book Award.

Karolyn's newest book, Steal Away Home (HarperCollins Canada, 2017) tells the true story of the enslaved Cecelia Jane Reynolds, who was only fifteen when she arranged her own flight to freedom via Niagara Falls. The volume took the Speaker’s Award for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario; the J.J. Talman Award as the best book on Ontario history over a three-year period; and was short-listed both for the Toronto Heritage Book Award and the Atlantic Book Award. Steal Away Home has been optioned for a five-part mini-series by Conquering Lion Productions, which made Book of Negroes for television.