The largest number
of Black immigrants to Canada came as runaways from American slavery
via the Underground Railroad during the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth
The Underground Railway started operating in the 1780s and reached
its peak between 1840 and 1860. In particular, the railway became
most effective after the passage of the US Fugitive Slave Act in 1850.
An estimated 30,000 Black fugitives escaped slavery to Canada via
the Underground Railway.
It wasn't actually railway.
It was a secret network of people, of safe houses, set up to help
Blacks escape the slavery of several American states and move to free
states, or freedom in Canada. The secret organization used railway
terms as codes to describe the actions of people who worked along
the network. "Conductors" helped escaped persons by hiding them from
being recaptured by their masters. Conductors moved their "passengers"
or "cargo" from one "station," or safe house, to another.