Tag Archives: slavery

Slaves in Canada — Classified Ads

Slaves in Canada — Classified Ads

 - The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
15 Nov 1921, Tue  •  Page 19


While aboriginal slaves cost 400 livres, black slaves cost over double
that amount – 900 livres. Advertisements in The Montreal Gazette began as small text notices in the classified section of the paper, much as they are today.

Between 1628-1833 they were close to 5000 slaves within the province, many of whom lived in Quebec City and worked in the homes of the founding wealthy French families. It is mostly assumed that Canada was a haven for slaves, which it was in the last two hundred years of slavery but before this slavery was legal and scores of Blacks and Natives were enslaved here.

Slavery buy and sell ads from the Upper Canada Gazette and Niagara Herald (Archives of Ontario)  

Slavery buy and sell ads from the Upper Canada Gazette and Niagara Herald (Archives of Ontario)  

A for sale ad for “A Young healthy Negro Woman between 12 and 13 years of age, lately from Upper Canada, where she was brought up.”


An April 2nd 1789 ad for “A stout healthy negro man, about 28 years of age, is an excellent cook.”

And a reprinting of the same ad in the next week’s paper with “very fit for working on a Farm” added to it.

Image result for slave ads gazette montreal

This ad was placed March 21, 1793 by a Mr. McMurray, selling a 25 year old female slave.

An ad, placed the same year, for a “Mulatto boy”, right next to notices for a horse saddle and a coffee house that were also for sale.


The Gazette also posted “missing” ads for slaves who had escaped, which required His Majesty’s subjects to “use their utmost diligence in apprehending the said criminal and lodge him in any of the jails of this Province.”


Here, William Spencer is being charged with petty larceny, aka theft of someone’s personal property, because technically by running away he was stealing his owner’s property – his own body.


Another runaway ad, forbidding all persons from “harbouring or aiding him to escape, as they may depend on being prosecuted to the utmost right of the law”, printed in May 1781.


A missing notice offering a twenty dollar reward for a Mulatto apprentice’s return.

Another missing ad, listing an escaped slave with other run-away criminals, lumping him in with a man that was charged with murder.

Image result for slave ads gazette montreal

Source – Tamara Extian-Babiuk




The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
23 Oct 1888, Tue  •  Page 7



Slavery — Not in My Backyard?

So What Happened to the Lost Colony of St. Armand?


Down by The Mississippi River with The Jessops (Mrs. Jessop was a former slave owner)

Did Blind Tom Play in Carleton Place?

Weird and Thrilling Concert in Carleton Place? The Jubilee Singers of Tennessee University

Architecture Stories: The Voodoo Madam – Mary Ellen Pleasant


Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Carleton Place



Bangor Daily Whig and Courier
Bangor, Maine
05 Mar 1842, Sat  •  Page 2

Slavery — Not in My Backyard?

Slavery — Not in My Backyard?




Canadian Museum of History–Virtual Museum of New France–labouring under the eye of the overseer, end of the eighteenth century

Years ago I visited The Hermitage, located just east of Nashville, Tennessee. Established in 1804, this historic plantation was the “Home of President Andrew Jackson,”  and also to over 200 enslaved men, women, and children.

The property also included a kitchen, smokehouse, and three log slave cabins that date to Jackson’s occupation of the property from 1804 to his death in 1845.  Some slaves lived in yard cabins, as close as ninety feet away from the main house. I personally spent more time in one of the slave cabins than the main house and could not imagine what it was like to live a life basically in shackles. Reduced  to poverty, denied their humanity and individuality as a person– surely, this only happened in the United States I thought. Wasn’t Canada one of the  ‘good guys” known for the Underground Railroad that the oppressed found freedom in Canada between 1840 and 1860?



No Canadian legislature actually abolished slavery. As with all British Imperial society, the institution of slavery came part and parcel with colonialism —Toronto Standard

For anyone that would think we were nothing but innocent in Canada you would be wrong. Slavery existed in Canada for years, yet only 30 years before Canadian Confederation was it made illegal. Slaves were imported from other British colonies, and the migrations to Canada of the United Empire Loyalists were responsible to a great extent for the existence of slavery in Canada.

The first recorded slave brought to Canada was in 1629 when a negro slave was brought to Quebec. In 1784 there were 88 negro slaves in Quebec City alone and even the local clergy owned slaves.  The memoirs of the founder of the Anglican Church of Canada, Rev. John Stuart D. D. revealed that he was a slave owner for some time after he settled in Kingston, Upper Canada in 1784. His Negros were his personal property he wrote and that was that. Surely he had to be breaking some commandments somewhere I thought. Slaves were sold in Lower Canada in 1783 and 1788, and strong healthy men were advertised and sold at a value of $50 each.

After the American Revolution the Loyalists brought their slaves with their other ‘chattels’ and were allowed to keep them as their slaves in Canada, no questions asked. Unlike racist laws that were found in the United States, Canada had largely unwritten racist codes, which many could argue made it more difficult for black people in Canada.

I wondered how Canadian slaves were treated, but documented proof in a Toronto newspaper made me understand all was not well here also. No one was innocent, from farmers to heads of government and in 1806 Peter Russell, who had been the administrator of the government of Ontario, placed the advertisement below:

“To be sold a black woman named Peggy and her son  named Jupiter about 15 years-old-both of them property of the subscriber. The woman is a tolerable cook, washerwoman and understands making soap and candles. The boy is tall and strong for his age and has been employed in the country business, and brought up principally as a house servant.

They are each of them servants for life and the price of the woman is $150 and for the boy $200 payable in three years with interest from the day of sale and to be secured by bond. But one-fourth less will be taken for ready money.”– York, February 19 1806.


Peggy-Ad-for-Matthew-Elliot-LP (1).jpeg

The York Gazette December 20, 1800.

Another advertisement said:

“To be sold a healthy negro woman  about 30 years of age. Understands cooking, laundry and taking care of poultry. She can also dress ladies hair.”

On March 1, 1811, William Jarvis, the secretary of the province, applied to the Ontario courts for the reimprisonment of a Negro boy and girl who had escaped. Were they criminals? Of course not–they were his slaves.

The last slave sold publicly in Canada was in 1797 and Young Emmanuel Allan was sold in Montreal in 1797 for 36 pounds. Finally in 1793 in the first Parliament of Upper Canada under the directorship of John Graves Simcoe (Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada) introduced an act to stop this atrocity. Finally, someone had the decency to end slavery-but it was only aimed at the gradual abolition of slavery. It had to be gradual, history documented, because they had to preserve the rights of private property.


Historians believe there was an estimated 4,000 slaves who were forcibly brought to Canada, either directly as property, or shipped through the trans-Atlantic slave trade from other British colonies. But, it was hard to document, and when you read there was 100s of slaves alone in St. Armand, Quebec (see related reading) you have to wonder how correct these figures really are.



Canadian Museum of History–Announcement of sale of slaves appeared in the Quebec Gazette May 10, 1785

Finally, no new slaves could be brought into Canada and children born of slaves would be freed after their 25th birthday. Seeing the life expectancy of a slave was 36, how fair was that.

In reality, there was no complete freeing of slaves in the province of Ontario until 1834, as some of the leading prominent families were still slave owners and did not want to give up their labour force. Sir John A. Macdonald is best known to Canadians as the country’s first prime minister and a father of Confederation also had a family connection to the slave trade and now a new database shows just how much his father-in-law received in compensation from the British government in return for freeing roughly 100 slaves in 1833.

Many went out of their way to make sure that their black fellow citizens didn’t have an easy go of it after they were freed.  Peter Gallego wrote that on a tour of the province of Ontario after he was freed he had been assaulted in taverns and steamships, denied passage on stagecoaches, forced to vacate inns and, finally, had been imprisoned and fined. He was also beaten by a crowd of white individuals when the judge presumed that they had somehow been provoked by the presence of a black individual.

We brag about the War of 1812, Laura Secord, Champlain, Cornwallis, and Louisbourg, and a million other things that existed before 1867, but Colonial Canadians owned slaves and it was part of Canadian culture. A more extensive system of slavery in the U.S. does not give us license to dismiss its presence and impact here. I would love to see lists of descendants of slaves brought by Canadian Empire Loyalists written up as also the founders of Canada in all Canadian history books and not as outlanders. Canadian slavery has long been a neglected area of our historical background and nature made no one a slave.


We have seen the mere distinction of colour made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.

JAMES MADISON, speech at the Constitutional Convention, June 6, 1787




Greg Duval– I was at a family gathering a few years ago, and in conversation learned about an old farm that had been recently sold. There, I was told by a distant relative, he had been involved in the sale and removal of family items. He related that they had to go down below the barn, and had seen chains and shackles still visible on the walls. There was no doubt in his mind what they were intended for.
I had always wondered why this family had moved from Charleston to London in the years following the Civil War. There is quite the history and connection to the deep south just as there is in Lennoxville and the surrounding area.


The Slave Dwelling Project —-Please click here


 Chloe Cooley and the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada
Although little is known about Chloe Cooley, an enslaved woman in Upper Canada, her struggles against her “owner,” Sergeant Adam Vrooman, precipitated the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada, 1793 — the first legislation in the British colonies to restrict the slave trade.


The Book of Negroes more than 3,000 slaves and freed black people were secured safe passage and their freedom to Nova Scotia, Canada. These African-American British Loyalists became the first settlement of Black Canadians.





Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.




So What Happened to the Lost Colony of St. Armand?


Down by The Mississippi River with The Jessops (Mrs. Jessop was a former slave owner)

Did Blind Tom Play in Carleton Place?

Weird and Thrilling Concert in Carleton Place? The Jubilee Singers of Tennessee University

Architecture Stories: The Voodoo Madam – Mary Ellen Pleasant


Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Carleton Place

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The Wright Brothers– British Home Children

The Wright Brothers– British Home Children




Dianne Kehoe Lawrence sent the LCGS this snippet about two British Home Children and Walter was her Grandfather.


BY-Dianne Kehoe Lawrence

Thomas and Walter  Wright born 1881 and 1882 on Guernsey, Channel Islands. Walter is my husband’s grandfather. They were shipped to Canada in 1894 as ‘slave’ or indentured labourers on farms.

Their father, a postman, on Guernsey died suddenly leaving a wife and seven children with another on the way. The mother was not able to manage so many children. The eldest boy entered the military at age 12. The mother kept the youngest children. Two girls went to an orphanage on Guernsey. Two boys went to an orphanage on Guernsey but were later shipped to England to Dr. Barnardo. From there they were sent to Canada.

My husband’s family didn’t know the story of Walter’s past until I began research. I have been able to connect and correspond with Wright cousins all over the world; Channel Islands, England, Canada, United States and Australia. Dianne


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)



Canadians Just Wanted to Use me as a Scullery-Maid

Laundry Babies – Black Market Baby BMH 5-7-66

So What Happened to the Lost Colony of St. Armand?



Hank Avery receiving the Frederick Johnson Award in 2002

A few years ago I wrote about the Underground Railroad and I mentioned a former neighbour’s name as I had remembered several of his passionate conversations about local black history at my Dad’s home on Miltimore Road in Bromont. *Hank Avery and his wife Linda were teachers at a local school in Cowansville, Quebec at the time and after my Father died I never saw them again.

Years passed and by this time I was living in Oakland, California where I was now a minority in an East Bay neighbourhood. In those days I didn’t write about history, but mostly about social injustice and daily crime in an area that was 85% black and 15% white. But I often thought of Hank as I wrote different essays because I finally understood what he was talking about.

Yesterday I was doing some research on *Sugar Hill, which used to be called Negro Hill, near Knowlton, Quebec. Trying to dig up more facts I somehow came across Hank Avery’s name, and this time it had to do with a historical injustice in a small hamlet in Quebec. In 2002 Avery had been fighting for 9 years to get a Saint-Armand-West slave cemetery recognized and protected. Unfortunately,  the site is privately owned and the owners were not, and still not, open to any conversations about digging on their property.


“Nigger Rock” in St. Armand, Quebec


Nigger Rock today- Photo- Joel Barter

“Nigger Rock” is a large outcrop of rock in a farmer’s cornfield located on what was once the property of Philip Luke, a Loyalist officer who settled in the area after the American Revolution, and arrived with slaves he inherited from his mother.  At its base lies a disturbing reminder of a rural community’s past as black slaves were buried there from 1794 until slavery was abolished in 1833.

The former black community is a sensitive subject to some of the townsfolk and many of Saint-Armand’s older residents still recall stories from their parents, or from their childhood. Of course there are some that call the former black-community stories just folklore, and if the stories are true- well to them it’s all dead and buried now. But what about the farmer who bought the former Luke homestead in the 1950s and discovered human remains when he was plowing the mound at the foot of the rock?  Doesn’t that count for something?

Of course with an abandoned “black chapel” and burial ground there had to be a community somewhere since the census of 1851 recorded no fewer than 283 black residents in the area. Where did they all live?  Where did they go? What happened to them?  An account book from the first store in the area lists the names of black men among its customers: “John the Black Man,” for example, and there are many others. A 1908 publication belonging to the  Brome Missisquoi Historical Society  also refers to “the St. Armand Negro Burying Ground.”


Built in 1819

By 1830 there were about 200 black residents in the area and there are also many referred thoughts that some of the escaped slaves from the United States also found refuge in Saint-Armand in the 1850s via the Underground Railway which had a stop at the old *Methodist Church Other archival records refer to the cemetery as being on the farm, but small-town politics and the strong resistance of the landowner have thwarted Mr. Avery’s and others efforts.


‘Nigger Rock’ is located south of Saint-Armand, Quebec, near the Vermont border.
Photo Credit: Flickr/CBC / Gilles Douaire

So what happened to this original African American Community? No one is certain how many slaves laboured for Colonel Luke, or when they died, but estimates are that as many as 30 were buried on the former Luke property. I am positive they probably formed their own community and became active members in the building and opening up of the Eastern Township region of Quebec. They worked, lived and celebrated as equals, and some in the local area are probably even descended from this former black community. So why is this area and the rock not recognized historically?

Today we are a few days away from 2017 and Don Phillips is still fighting to get the area formally recognized as a historical site.  After days of researching I cannot find out any other mention of Hank Avery,  the former elementary school teacher who first visited the burial ground in 1996 and was outraged when he realized there were no markers on it. What happened to *Mr. Avery? ( Found him thanks to the Eastern Townships Facebook Board)

One thing is certain– if the new law by the Quebec Toponymy Commission goes through; all might have been fought for not. The basis of this new law says place names that contain a racial slur must go.  But, will changing the names help remove black history from Quebec? As one commentator said:

“I think the rivers and sites should be researched and renamed after Underground Railroad families and individuals from the area that helped African-Americans to escape to freedom. This will preserve the history and remind us of our noble legacy of doing the right thing, even when the “right thing” isn’t popular at the time”.

The truth is you always know what the right thing is to do- the hard part is doing it.

If you would like to read more about this subject–BIRDIE The Saga of Nigger Rock– Danny B McAuley has books available  by Bee Santori  aka Grandpa Bob at @Brome Lake Books or you can contact Bee and get them directly from him: https://beesblurb.wordpress.com/about/


Address: 30 Chemin Lakeside, Knowlton, QC J0E 1V0
Joel Barter added this: click here– For most of its history, the official name of this river was “Rivière Nigger” in accordance with the local oral tradition of the Eastern Townships, Québec.

Hank Avery was featured in this video..


*Sugar Hill which used to be called Negro Hill got its name from a negro settler of the name of Tom Peters, who had a family and lived opposite Wm. Knowlton’s house. Peters afterward moved to the little hill through which the road has been cut on Levi Whitman’s big farm near Knowlton. This hill was called “Tom Hill.”

*The bi-annual Frederick Johnson Award to honour an individual or a non-profit organization that has achieved outstanding results in fighting racism. Its 2002 recipient was Mr. Hank Avery, an African Canadian teacher in St-Armand-Phillipsburg, Quebec who mobilized local citizens for the recognition of a Black slaves’ cemetery in that region. Mr. Avery now lives in Bedford , Quebec.

*Philipsburg United Church

  • Philipsburg was known as the gateway to the Townships. In the period of the American Revolution, travelers used the Champlain waterway to establish settlements in the Eastern Townships.
  • The church was built in 1819, today it stands as the oldest establishment in Canada that still is used as a place of worship.
  • During the battle of Moore’s Corner (1837 Rebellion) the church was used by the militia as a storing facility for arms and ammunition. Many soldiers used the church has their base for food and shelter.
  • In the 1860’s many slave refugees from the American South found a haven in the homes of the congregation, it was a stop in the Underground Railway.
  • From the pulpit, the preacher was once able to see straight down to the waters of the bay when the doors were open. Today it still can be done, but has become harder with the growths of community and nature.
  • Philipsburg United Church is located at or near 299 Montgomery in Philipsburg (Saint-Armand), Quebec, which is at the very top of the street.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

Related Stories–


Hidden History of Black Canadians

Black rights group wants to formally recognize ‘Nigger Rock’

Being Buried on Farmland ( Ontario facts)

11 Quebec sites that contain the N-word to be renamed