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AfriGeneas Canada Research Forum

Re: Slavery in Canada
In Response To: Re: Slavery in Canada ()

After the American Revolution, there was a group of Loyalists who were forced to resettle in the Niagara district. The men in these families had fought as an integrated unit of whites, blacks and Natives. Some of them had lost their socially imposed notions of racial divisions and their vision became an undercurrent in the creation of the country of Canada.

Peter Martin was one of these Loyalists and a black man who was instrumental in convincing Governor Simcoe to address the legal crime of slavery. Orginally the law was to put an end to slavery completely. Unfortunately there were rich slave owners who put pressure on Simcoe to water down the anti-slavery law. Still, the law did mean that Canada was a safe haven for any slave who escaped the United States.

When the United States threatened to take over Canada in 1812, the Loyalists and their sons fought again. If it was not for our Native and African Loyalists, Canada would likely never have existed. Also if not for the existence of Canada more Africans would have died under slavery and many of the Native people would not have survived under American policy.

There was racism of course. Canada was not a perfect haven---but it was still a haven. Generations continue today because of this country, and because there were enough visionaries here to join in the work of the underground railroad.

The influx of European settlers into Canada meant an increase in bigotry also. It became more difficult for the sons and daughters of those Loyalists who had become a "racial mix." It also became more difficult for many who had come to Canada to escape slavery. When the risk of enslavement no longer existed in the United States, many did return for the comfort and security of the larger African American communities south of the border.

There were also many who remained in Canada but most of them 'blended' in with the Euro-population. I'd estimate the numbers to be in the hundreds of thousands for these descendants, many of whom have no idea of their heritage.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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