Map of the “Underground Railroad” Routes to Canada

Map of the Underground Railroad Routes to Canada.png

Dublin Core


Map of the “Underground Railroad” Routes to Canada


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 states" or to Canada. After 1850, the American Fugitive Slave Act made it illegal to knowingly harbour a fugitive slave. White people and free Black people in the United States were required by law to turn in anyone they knew to be an escaped slave. Fugitive slaves could no longer feel safe from recapture and return to slavery, even if they had been living in freedom for a long time. In fact, some Black people who were born into freedom were taken into slavery as a result of this law. So before 1850, fugitives sometimes connected to the Underground Railroad to escape into the northern U.S or Canada. After 1850, it became unsafe for most Black people to remain in the U.S., and there was a mass exodus of Blacks between 1850 and 1865 unto Canada. Many free Blacks travelled openly through the northern U.S., doing research about their travel plans in advance of their departure for the north. Many also travelled in large family groups. But fugitive slaves escaping from the southern U.S. still tended to travel alone and were more often than not young and male.

The Underground Railroad was sometimes used by fugitives to make their escape to the northern U.S. and to Canada. The routes used several modes of transportation, including river boats up the Mississippi River, trains, horse-drawn carts, horseback and foot travel. The stopping points were houses and farms owned by abolitionists and sympathizers where fugitives could rest and get food. These "stations" on the Underground Railroad were secret and often the people running the stations - the "conductors" - only knew about the stations just to the south of themselves, and the stations next along the line to the north.




Library and Archives Canada


Wilbur H. Siebert, The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom, The Macmillan Company, 1898. Foldout insert.


ca. 1850


Copyright Expired






Still Image


AMICUS 4718037