A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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Subject Profile: Martha Black
J.D. Edwards

Jeff Edwards was 21 when he left Oklahoma for Canada in 1910, seeking an escape from segregation and prejudice in the American South. From Edmonton he walked a hundred miles north, staked a homestead east of Athabasca, then married his sweetheart, Martha Murphy. The couple were two of the first settlers in the black settlement known as "Amber Valley".

Jeff and Martha tackled the rigours of pioneer life, carving a farm out of the bush and raising ten children. Edwards embraced his new citizenship with pride, becoming involved in local politics, the school and hospital boards, and a founding member of the Alberta Wheat Pool. In 1926, J. D. started the Amber Valley Baseball Team, whose members served as unofficial ambassadors of the black community.

Jeff Edwards was presented with an Achievement Award in Humanities from the Alberta government in 1973, in honour of his contributions to sports, politics, and community life. He died in 1979 at the age of 90, remembered as a proud Canadian citizen who epitomized the spirit of the black pioneers who settled the Canadian West.

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