On April 26, 1954 a train arrived in Ottawa. Inside one of its cars: a 35-member delegation of the Negro Citizenship Association. In They Call Me George, sociology professor and novelist (Independence) Cecil Foster makes the case that the moment was exceptional, a consequential threshold-crossing episode.
The men, former and current porters (popularly known as “George’s boys” after American magnate George Pullman’s famous train service franchise), had journeyed to meet federal government representatives with a goal to transform the country. In place of one dominant idea — Canada as a “white country” created “for the habitation and benefit of people of European ethnicities” — they offered another: “a new nation state created out of all peoples of the world, a country of equality, where specific ethnic groups would not have all the privileges and others none.”