This site from the Library and Archives Canada reproduces the photos, drawings, original manuscripts, books, and maps used in this exhibition. They tell some of the stories of the approximately 30,000 Black refugees who left the United States for Canada.
There has been a steady stream of migration of Black people into Canada via Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States since the 17th century. The first recorded Black person to arrive in Canada was an African named Mathieu de Coste who arrived in 1608 to serve as interpreter of the Mi’kmaq language to the governor of Acadia. A few thousand Africans arrived in Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves. After the American Revolution, the British gave passage to over 3000 slaves and free Blacks who had remained loyal to the Crown. These Black Loyalists joined the many other United Empire Loyalists in settlements across the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Other Black slaves joined their Loyalist slave owners when they migrated to Canada.
In 1910 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 during the next few decades. In 1955, the West Indian Domestic Scheme permitted single women aged 18 to 35 and in good health to work in Canada as domestics for one year before being granted immigrant status. Over 2600 women were admitted under this scheme. In 1967, the government of Canada dropped the racially discriminatory immigration system, after which Black immigration rose dramatically.