AfriGeneas Canada Research Forum
Re: Slavery in Canada
In Response To: Re: Slavery in Canada ()
My grandfather's grandfather's grandfather, William Lee, was a black Loyalist who served on behalf of the British Crown and it was his military and land records that allowed me to trace him back. Per oral history, he was Malagasy, which may be true, but I've yet to prove that. All I do know, from one of his land records (Loyalists were promised land in return for their service in the war) is that he came to Canada about 1776 and left "340 acres in the states to become a subject of Great Britain."
What's interesting about that statement is that the 340 acres was a sum promised to those who served in the Revolutionary War on behalf of the U.S., and since William Lee was most definitely black, I find it surprising that he would have been promised this land only to abandon it and come to Canada. I think this claim of land in "the states" may have been stretched in order to pump up his claim for land in Canada.
At any rate, William Lee became involved in a VERY lengthy fight for land that he'd been given in Amherstburgh, just outside the walls of Fort Malden, and eventually he was forced from the land but given other land elsewhere.
Does this answer your questions? If not, please don't hesitate to ask. By the way, I've been to the land where he'd originally lived in Amherstburgh, and, surprisingly, it's only about 20 miles from where I was raised, in Highland Park, MI, just across the Detroit River. For generations, we had NO clue that our Canadian ancestors had once lived just across the river, because once they left Amherstburgh, they moved to Niagara, then to Collingwood and Brantford, and finally to Buffalo, NY. When my father left Buffalo and got a job in Detroit (Chrysler's defense plant), hundreds of years later, he was, in essence, bringing the Lee family full circle from where we'd started in Canada.
As far as William Lee's origins prior to Canada, still working on it. I'm hoping that there might be some British military records at the PRO in London separate from what the Ontario and Canadian Archives hold, but for now, all I know is when he came to Canada. I doubt he came into Canada as a slave, but it's quite possible that he did.
- Lisa B. Lee, PLCGS
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