by Gilbert Ngabo
Originally published: July 19, 2017
The first time Albert Jackson walked into his workplace, all his new co-workers walked out.
It was May 12, 1882 and Jackson was the first Black person to be appointed as a letter carrier in Toronto, becoming one of the few people of colour to hold civil service position in 19th-century Canada.
"They were all white and they refused to work with him or to train him," said Heritage Toronto's historical plaques coordinator Camille Begin. "There was so much racism at that time."
It took the intervention of then-Prime Minister John A. Macdonald - who was courting Black voters in the upcoming election - for Jackson to start working, after nearly a month of heated debate over his appointment. He'd go on to work at the post office for 36 years.