Josiah Henson was born on 15 June 1789 in Charles County, Maryland, and died on 5 May 1883 in Dresden, Ontario. He was one of the founders of the Black community settlement at Dawn, in Canada West. Born into slavery, Henson escaped to Upper Canada in 1830. 

He founded the Dawn Settlement near Dresden, Upper Canada, for American fugitives from slavery, and helped free over 100 enslaved people. 

In 1825, Henson attempted to buy his freedom from his owner, Isaac Riley. However, Mr. Riley needed money and sent Henson to escort a group of 18 enslaved individuals to Kentucky. During this trip, the group could have easily escaped to Ohio and gained their freedom, but Henson remained focused on the task at hand as his owner had promised to grant him manumission (ownership of himself). Henson was then disappointed when he discovered that his owner had no intention of fulfilling this promise. He, his wife, and their children were taken to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1829 to be sold. It was then that Henson and his family fled to Upper Canada, reaching the Niagara Peninsula on 28 October 1830. Henson and his family settled near Dresden, Upper Canada. With his leadership skills, he was able to garner the support of abolitionists who helped him create the Dawn settlement. This was a place for refugees from slavery to gain education and skills to promote self-sufficiency and self-determination. Henson believed that black people needed to learn skills within their own community.

In 1841, Henson and his partners purchased 200 acres of land, and in 1842 they established The British American Institute. This school was created for students of all ages and was designed to train teachers while providing general education and trade labor to the members of the community. 

(Citation—2015, Josiah Henson. The Canadian Encyclopedia)