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Fugitive Slave in Canada

Fugitive Slave in Canada

Jeremiah (student)
There was an African presence in Canada before slavery.
The first person of African heritage known to have come to what is now Canada arrived over 400 years ago. In 1604, Mathieu Da Costa arrived with the French explorers Pierre Du Gua De Monts and Samuel de Champlain.

Between 1749 and 1782, most of the people of African descent brought to Nova Scotia were enslaved by English or American settlers. In 1750, there were about 400 enslaved and 17 free Black people living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Although the system of slavery did expand in this period, by 1767 there were also 104 free Black persons living in Nova Scotia (which is now New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island).

In the early 1850’s, two important abolitionist newspapers were founded in Canada to support the global anti-slavery movement:

The Voice of the Fugitive was established in 1851 by Mary and Henry Bibb in Windsor, Ontario, and reported on the Underground Railroad.

The Provincial Freeman, which was published out of Toronto and later Chatham, was founded by Mary Ann and Isaac Shadd in 1853 – making Mary Ann Shadd the first Black woman in North America to own and publish a newspaper.

In 1858, nearly 800 free Black people left the oppressive racial conditions of San Francisco for a new life on Vancouver Island. Though still faced with intense discrimination, these pioneers enriched the political, religious, and economic life of the colony.
ArtifactFugitive Slave in CanadaCollectionThe Underground RailroadThe African American Museumat the England ManorShare