Waterloo County Black African Settlers
Black Genealogy Research in Ontario
by Lorine McGinnis Schulze of OliveTreeGenealogy.com
In 1793, the parliament of
the province of Upper Canada (now Ontario) passed An Act
to prevent the further introduction of Slaves and to limit
the term of contracts for Servitude within this Province.
Act ensured that the children of slaves, at age 25, would
automatically be set free. The Act remained in force until
1833 when the British Parliament's Emancipation Act abolished
slavery in all parts of the Empire, including Ontario.
War of 1812
After the War of 1812, the
black community in Ontario grew with the steady arrival
of runaway slaves from the southern United States. Over
the next few years many slaves found freedom by following
the Underground Railroad to Ontario.
American Fugitive Slave Laaw 1850
The American Fugitive Slave
Law of 1850 forced an influx of freedom seekers to many
parts of Canada West via the Underground Railroad. This
Act gave slave owners the right to apprehend fugitives anywhere
in the Republic and return them to slavery. This caused
both free Blacks and fugitive slaves to flee north.
Black Settlements in Ontario
By 1851 there were more than
35,000 people of African descent in Ontario.
Drew wrote about the blacks in Canada 1856 in his 1856
book "A NorthSide View of Slavery. The Refugee: or the
Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada. Related by themselves,
with an account of the history and condition of the colored
population of Upper Canada 1"
colored population of Upper Canada, was estimated in the
First Report of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, in
1852, at thirty thousand. Of this large number, nearly
all the adults, and many of the children, have been fugitive
slaves from the United States"
black settlements in Ontario but the settlement in
Waterloo was the Queen's
The Clergy Reserve known as
the Queen's Bush, extended from Waterloo County to Lake
Huron. The majority of black settlers settled in the southern
half of Peel Township in Wellington County but the Queen's
Bush Settlement also included the northern half of Wellesley
Township and the western portion of Woolwich Township in
Waterloo County. This area, eight by twelve miles in size,
had a population of approximately 1,500 Black settlers by
1840. A major relocation of Black settlers began taking
place in the late 1840s, mostly to Owen Sound, but also
to towns and cities surrounding the Queen's Bush Settlement
and to other Black settlements.
African Methodist Episcopal Church located in Peel served
this black community in the 1840s
In 1850, the Common Schools
Act of the colonial government provided for the creation
of separate schools for Blacks. Black schools frequently
suffered from a lack of financial support. Black students
often found themselves barred from other schools.
Back to the USA
Those seeking their black ancestors
may therefore need to turn to records in the U.S.A. once
their search in Canada has been exhausted.