DRESDEN, ONT. -- Dresden Raceway is set to celebrate its Black Heritage Sunday with a special card of racing.

Track officials say Dresden Raceway is a unique racetrack that is located on the original 100-acre property known as the Dawn Settlement that was purchased by Josiah Henson in 1841.

“This is something that is very unique to Dresden Raceway when comparing us to other tracks in Canada,” says track announcer Gary Patterson.

Henson was inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which had a strong effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the United States.

He also owned and bred racehorses throughout his life on the raceway property.

“We have generations of Black families who are such a big part of our history,” Patterson says.

He says several local Black families will be honoured Sunday for their contributions made to harness racing in Dresden and to the industry in Ontario.

Patterson says the raceway’s history includes the List, McCorkle, Grineage, Simmons, Davis, Prince and Tanner families, along with Duwayne Guest who will also be honoured.

“This is something that is going to be a lot of fun! I can’t wait to hear some of the stories, we already have several reservations,” says Patterson.

He tells CTV News that in Henson’s will, Henson left half of the proceeds from his prized Hamletonian Stallion to his son Peter.

Patterson says Hambletonian is highly regarded as the father of horse racing in North America, adding this draws to the conclusion that racehorses have been in the area of Dresden Raceway for over 160 years.

Post time will be 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1. More than one thousand spectators are able to attend in person, under the current COVID-19 guidelines.

All fans who wish to attend the day are asked to register through the Dresden Raceway Facebook Page or email dresdenracewayreservations@gmail.com.

The season concludes the next day on the Civic Holiday on Monday, Aug. 2.