Historical Canadian Biographies
If you've ever wondered about the contributions of Black Canadians, then you might want to read some Historical Candian Biographies. Many people don't realize just how many people have contributed to the development of Canada and the country's identity. This article highlights some of those individuals. Learn about Chloe Cooley, who was enslaved and helped to establish Upper Canada. Also, find out about Mary Ann Shadd, the first Black woman to publish a newspaper in North America. Also, read about Violet King, Canada's first black female lawyer.
Chloe Cooley was an enslaved woman in Upper Canada
In the late 18th century, the enslaved Black woman from Queenston, Ontario, Canada, named Chloe Cooley, fought back against her enslavers. She was forced into a boat for sale in upstate New York, but managed to free herself by refusing to give up her freedom. Her bravery and resistance drew public attention, and today, Canada honours the resilience and innovation of Black people in every sector of society.
In 1819, Chloe Cooley, a free Black former soldier of the Butler's Rangers, and a white man named William Grisely brought the incident to the attention of the Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe. Simcoe later acted to end slavery in Ontario. After hearing the story, he passed a law abolishing slavery in Canada.
Her enslavement and resistance motivated the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada in 1793. The Act, which restricted the trade of slaves, met with significant opposition and was far from perfect. Chloe Cooley's story highlights the racial and gender strategies that fueled resistance against enslaved people in the British Colonies.
Despite its failure to ban slavery in Upper Canada, the Cooley incident inspired further resistance to the practice. The Cooley Act was passed, but it did not free all of the enslaved people in the colony. As a result, many enslaved people fled to the Old Northwest Territory, which included parts of Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Simcoe's abolition bill led to the gradual elimination of slavery and the establishment of the Underground Railroad.
Mary Ann Shadd was the first Black woman to publish a newspaper in North America
Mary Ann Shadd Cary was an abolitionist, lawyer, and educator who was also the first Black woman in North America to publish a newspaper. She was born in Delaware and became the first Black woman to publish a newspaper. Her family's home served as a shelter for fugitive slaves and she attended a Quaker boarding school. The Provincial Freeman, her first publication, was the first African American newspaper in North America.
Mary Ann Shadd was a journalist who became a publisher in 1853. She founded the "Provincial Freeman," a weekly newspaper that aimed to reach Black people in Canada. Her newspaper featured articles on abolition and temperance. Shadd also advocated for women's rights. She received recognition as a Person of National Historic Significance by the Canadian government in 1931.
After completing her university education, Mary Ann Shadd entered Howard University's law school. She graduated at age 60. She spent the remainder of her life practicing law. She was subsequently recognized as the first Black woman to receive a law degree in the United States. Mary Ann Shadd Cary died in Washington, DC on June 5, 1893. She was the first Black woman to publish a newspaper in North America.
In addition to her newspaper, Shadd also wrote articles about the plight of African-Americans and the issue of slavery. During the early part of the Civil War, Shadd taught in an interracial school in Chatham. However, she soon became tired of watching the conflict from afar. In 1863, she and her family returned to the United States. Abraham Lincoln had just called for 500,000 black men to join the Union army, and she helped to enlist a regiment of African-American soldiers.
Violet King was the first black female lawyer in Canada
The name Violet King may not be immediately recognizable, but this Alberta native was the first black woman to graduate from law school and be admitted to the Alberta Bar. In addition to being the first black woman to practice law in Alberta, King was also the first black woman named to a senior management position with the American national YMCA. King's legacy is one that inspires many to follow in her footsteps.
Upon entering the University of Alberta, King was one of three women in the Faculty of Law. While studying, she was an active member of the Blue Stocking Club, which aimed to foster interest in history and public affairs. The name likely came from the Blue Stockings Society, which first formed in 18th-century England. She also served as the student union's vice-president and was elected to represent her peers in the National Federation of Canadian University Students.
A long time ago, when she was still a teenager, Violet King Henry dreamed of becoming a lawyer. She was determined to make history and became the first black woman to graduate law school in Alberta and be called to the Bar. Among her many accomplishments, King also became the first black person to be named to a senior management position with the American national YMCA. She was only a decade old when she began her research and became the first Black woman to be called to the Alberta Bar.
After graduating from law school, Violet King worked at the federal citizenship board in Ottawa for seven years. She then moved to New Jersey, where she worked as the executive director of a community branch of the YMCA in Newark, where she also married and raised her family. She also became the first black woman executive in the National YMCA Hall of Fame. She passed away from cancer in 1982 at the age of 52.
William Edward Hall
One of the most famous Black people of the 19th century, William Edward Hall, was born in Horton Bluff, Nova Scotia, the son of former slaves. He was rescued from slavery by a British frigate during the War of 1812. William grew up in the Hansport area, a bustling town known for its wooden ships. Before he was eighteen, he had already visited most ports in the world. His service to the British Royal Navy included serving as an Able Seaman on the HMS Rodney.
His career in the Royal Navy coincided with the rapid expansion of British imperial power. While he played no role in determining the course of British imperial policy, his actions helped extend British colonial rule over vast swaths of non-British territory. It is important to view Hall's actions within the context of both broader imperialism and the resistance to such governance.
Hall spent the remainder of his life serving with the Royal Navy. He served on the ship HMS Donegal and later became Petty Officer First Class in HMS Royal Adelaide. His service in the navy earned him the Victoria Cross, and he returned to his farm in Horton Bluff. His service medals were recognized by the future King George V, who met him in 1901. His original Victoria Cross is currently on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax.
After serving for over a decade in the Royal Navy, William Hall was discharged in 1876 and buried without military honours. However, a local campaign to honor Hall's valour led to the reburial of his body in the Hantsport Baptist Church grounds. In honour of William Hall, the Hantsport branch of the Royal Canadian Legion erected a commemorative cairn in the churchyard. The DaCosta-Hall Educational Program, the Hantsport branch of the Canadian Legion, and the Halifax gun run all bear his name.
Anglade was a staunch anti-Duvalierist
Edouard Anglade, a Haitian immigrant, joined the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal in 1974, becoming the first Black officer in Montreal. He was the only Black officer in Montreal for several years. Anglade fought crime in Montreal for 30 years, earning the respect of his fellow police officers and ultimately becoming the highest-ranking Black officer in the city. His book Nom de code, Mao, chronicles his experiences with the Montreal police force.
Duvalier was re-elected in 1967. Barbot was imprisoned after suffering a heart attack. When he recovered, Duvalier manipulated legislative elections and extended his term. He subsequently re-elected himself in 1968. But the public did not forgive him and Anglade remained a staunch anti-Duvalierist. The opposition's popularity dwindled, and Anglade stayed steadfast.