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Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893) was a black American who, despite being born free, came to Canada when the U.S. Fugitive Slave Act was implemented in 1850. She was a teacher, abolitionist, and activist. In 1853 she became the first woman in Canada…

The mid-nineteenth century was a chaotic time in the North American northwest. British Columbia was not a province but a scattered collection of British colonies. The border dispute with the Americans had only recently been settled. But the gold…

This 1788 image is described by Library and Archives Canada as a "rare and early example" of a Black person in what was then the British colony of Nova Scotia. This watercolour by artist William Booth depicts a wood cutter, indicating lumbering as a…

Nova Scotian Rose Fortune is a good example of someone who led an interesting life. Born in Virginia in 1774, she was brought by her slave parents as Black United Empire Loyalists to Nova Scotia, where they settled as free people in the Annapolis…

Black Loyalists came from the United States to Canada after the American Revolution. This pass was a standard form to which the name of the specific Black loyalist was affixed, along with the date. The requirement to enter "He" or "She" at the…

This extract from the title page of the Book of Negroes is taken from the British version of this document. Two of these hand-written records were made simultaneously - one by the British and one by the Americans - listing the names and descriptions…

Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe played a significant role in the passing of a law in Upper Canada in 1793 that was intended to gradually eliminate slavery. While existing slaves would remain slaves, the law disallowed any new slaves from…

This map shows the new territory created in the United States in 1787 as a "free" territory. Any slave entering the state after 1787 was deemed free, although slaves already residing there remained the property of their owners. Since this territory…

This illustration shows the way slave ships were packed with slaves during the Atlantic slave trade. The illustration was used as evidence presented to a select committee of the British House of Commons in 1790-1791. However, it took another…

Richard Pierpoint is an example of a man who was captured and enslaved in Africa and transported to the United States where he was a slave before he gained his freedom and made his way to Canada. He fought on the side of the British during the…