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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…

In 1849, Henry Bibb published Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, Written by Himself in which this picture appears. It is interesting that he chose a handbill advertizing himself as a runaway slave for his portrait…

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…

Harriet Tubman was born a slave in 1820. She escaped as a young woman an made her way to St. Catharine's, Ontario but returned to the United States nineteen times working as a "conductor" on the "Underground Railroad." When the American Civil War…

The Underground Railroad was the name given to the system of secret routes and stopping points that White and Black abolitionists and fugitive slaves used to get fugitives out of the southern American "slave states" and into the northern "free…

William Hall was born in Horton Bluff, Nova Scotia, the son of former American slaves. He began his naval career on an American trading vessel in 1844 when he was only seventeen years old. In 1852 he joined the British Royal Navy and fought in the…

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…

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…

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 petition from James Frazer to the Governor of Upper and Lower Canada, Robert Prescott, is a request for assurances that these colonies will not abolish slavery. Frazer was a White United Empire Loyalist who came to Nova Scotia and brought, at…