You have seen him on The Porter, Canada’s largest Black-led TV series, and if you take the Underground Railroad Train this Sunday night, you will be joining the series writer/actor/producer Arnold Pinnock on another critically important train ride. Another much celebrated Toronto Black actor, Conrad Coates will be sharing speaking roles right beside Pinnock.
The July 31st Emancipation Day Underground Freedom Train Ride is back on track and in-person this year after being derailed for two years by Covid. The annual train ride aboard a dedicated TTC train takes 1,000 people on a non-stop ride to the Sheppard Station to have a midnight “happening” to mark Emancipation Day.
“I am so proud to participate in this train ride,” said The Porter’s Arnold Pinnock.
54-year old Pinnock sees some similarities between the message of the 19th century clandestine slave escape route North and the race and union struggles of Black porters in Canada in 1930 as documented in The Porter.
Currently working at his home in Scarborough on the writing of the second season of the CBC’s The Porter, he says he has a vision. “My whole thing is I am compelled to get the stories of Black people out!”
Fellow actor, 52-year-old Conrad Coates, will be giving a talk about former slave American Frederick Douglas to the Underground (subway) Railroad riders. Douglass was a slave who escaped to New York to become a leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the practice of slavery, before and during the Civil War.
Toronto based Coates is an actor and producer known for The Dresden Files, Degrassi, The Expanse, Jupiter’s Legacy and a Dog’s Journey. The award-winning actor is a Professor of Acting at Seneca and his firm Coates & Company teach acting techniques in Toronto and Vancouver.
The 2022 Conductor will be the Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine as she blows the whistle to start the 2022 Toronto Underground Freedom Train Ride at Union Station. Joining Jean Augustine will be former Calypso Monarch, Macomere Fifi.
Everyone is welcome to get on board this annual ride as the people of this city recognises the challenges and opportunities provided by Canada’s proclaimed Emancipation Day. The ride will be an incredible journey and experience about the Underground Railroad, the route enslaved Africans used to escape American slavery.
There is no cost to ride the train. It all begins TONIGHT at 11 am at Union Station. The train will travel non-stop on the University Line to the Sheppard Station. Everyone will leave the cars and take part in an Emancipation ceremony in the station. The train will return to Union Station by 1am MONDAY morning.