Ontario Black Canadians

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Online Records[edit | edit source]

Born in Scotland, William King came to Canada as a Free Church missionary and was active in the abolition struggle. He established the Elgin Settlement, designed for escaped slaves from the United States. He also assisted with the organization of a Black community near Chatham, Ontario.

Background and History[edit | edit source]

Black Canadians is a designation used for people of full or partial sub-Saharan African descent, who are citizens or permanent residents of Canada. The majority of Black Canadians are of Caribbean origin, though the population also consists of African-American immigrants and their descendants, as well as many native African immigrants.

Many Canadians of Afro-Caribbean origin strongly object to the term African Canadian, as it obscures their own culture and history, and this partially accounts for the term's less prevalent use in Canada, compared to the consensus African American south of the border. Black Nova Scotians, a more distinct cultural group, some of whom can trace their Canadian ancestry back to the 1700s, use both terms, African Canadian and Black Canadian. Caribbean Canadian is often used to refer to Black Canadians of Caribbean heritage. More specific national terms such as Jamaican Canadian, Haitian Canadian, or Ghanaian Canadian are also used. [1]

As a group, Black people arrived in Canada in several waves:

  1. A few thousand Africans arrived in Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves.
  2. After the American Revolution, the British gave passage to over 3000 slaves and free Blacks who had remained loyal to the Crown.
  3. Fearing for their safety in the United States after the passage of the first Fugitive Slave Law in 1793, over 30,000 slaves came to Canada via the Underground Railroad until the end of the American Civil War in 1865. They settled mostly in southern Ontario.
  4. Other migrations of Black people from the United States occurred during the War of 1812, when over 2000 refugees came to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
  5. Many Black people migrated to Canada in search of work and became porters with the railroad companies in Ontario, Quebec, and the Western provinces or worked in mines in the Maritimes.
  6. From 1910 to 1962, the government of Canada implemented a new Immigration Act that barred immigrants into Canada from races deemed undesirable and very few Black people entered Canada.[2] Canada maintained its restrictions of immigration until 1962, when racial rules were eliminated from the immigration laws. By the mid-1960s, approximately 15,000 Caribbean immigrants had settled in Toronto. Over the next decades, several hundred thousand Afro-Caribbeans arrived, becoming the predominant black population in Canada. Between 1950 and 1995, about 300,000 people from the West Indies settled in Canada.[1]


Ontario Black Africans[edit | edit source]

  • Most of Ontario's black settlements were in and around Windsor, Chatham, London, St Catharines and Hamilton. Toronto had a black district, and there were smaller concentrations of blacks near Barrie, Owen Sound and Guelph. Also from Wikipedia: The refugee slaves who settled in Canada did so primarily in South Western Ontario, with significant concentrations being found in Amherstburg, Colchester, Chatham, Windsor, and Sandwich.[1]
  • In Ontario the Underground Railroad fugitives tended to concentrate in settlements, less as a consequence of government policy than for the sake of mutual support and protection against white Canadian prejudice and discrimination and American kidnappers.
  • The fugitive blacks who had arrived in Ontario via the Underground Railroad typically arrived destitute, and without government land grants were usually forced to become labourers on the lands of others, although some farmed their own land successfully, and some worked for the Great Western Railway.
  • During the 19th century, British and American societies established schools for blacks throughout Ontario. The government of Ontario created legally segregated public schools. In 1965 the last segregated school in Ontario closed.[3]

Archives of Ontario[edit | edit source]

Library and Archives Canada[edit | edit source]

Research in Published Sources[edit | edit source]

  • Bibliography of published sources: This bibliography mentions several books about individual settlements: Oxford County, Niagara Falls, Bertie township, Grantham township.

Amherstburg Freedom Museum[edit | edit source]

"The Amherstburg Freedom Museum tells the story of African-Canadians’ journey and contributions, by preserving stories and presenting artifacts that educate and inspire. The museum was founded by Amherstburg resident Melvin “Mac” Simpson, on the belief that social, economic and educational issues would be better addressed by a society with greater knowledge and pride in its own history. After over 40 years of service, and with generous support from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government sources, the Amherstburg Freedom Museum continues to be a national symbol of courage, determination and freedom."

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Black Canadians", Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Canadians, accessed 14 October 2020.
  2. "Black History in Canada", Library and Archives Canada, https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/immigration/history-ethnic-cultural/Pages/blacks.aspx, accessed 14 October 2020.
  3. "Black Canadians", The Canadian Encyclopedia, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/black-canadians, accessed 14 October 2020.