A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
Episodes Search Site Map The Series Partners White Pine White Pine Home

General History


Blacks have been a part of the Canadian mosaic since the early 1600's. Until very recently, the Black experience in Canada has been determined by their skin colour. Black Loyalists of the 1780's, were given poor and small land grants. The Blacks who fought during World War II, were given their freedom, but once again the land grants they were given were very poor. Blacks, fleeing to Canada following the North Star, and being guided by the brave people of the underground railroad, again had their freedom, but this freedom was hampered by barriers, placed where they could live, worship and work. Blacks were encouraged to go to segregated schools. These schools were sub-standard resulting in Black Canadians being further hampered by a lack of education.

Despite the many hardships faced by these early settlers, it was the Black farmers who helped settle the West. Blacks who escaped slavery in Kentucky, introduced tobacco farming to Ontario. It was a Black cowboy, John Ware, who first brought Longhorn cattle to Canada's West. Despite all these accomplishments, Blacks were isolated, unable to break the barriers. They were employed mainly in unskilled fields such as rail porters and chambermaids. Black communities were largely insular and inter-dependent. The community was centred around the church.

It was not until the 1950's, that the Immigration Act was amended, allowing for Black emigration. Between 1950 and 1965, there was a great influx of Blacks from the West Indies and Africa. These immigrants settled in the urban areas. They were better educated and skilled. It was because of this influx that Blacks finally started being represented in fields such as law, medicine and engineering. It was not until 1963, with the election of Leonard Braithwaite, that Ontario had its first African Canadian member of the Provincial Legislature. This was followed five years later with Lincoln Alexander being elected as the first Black Member of Parliament in Canada. Lincoln Alexander was the son of a chambermaid and railroad porter. He has become a hero of the Black community of Canada by knocking down racial barriers. Serving in the air force in World War II, rising from his humble roots to becoming the first Black M.P., and later the first Black Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Lincoln Alexander is a link between the old Canadian Black Community and the new immigrant community. As Rev. William White preached a generation earlier, you can make changes through positive action. He showed both Blacks and Whites that the world does not have to be segregated.

Previous Page - - Next Page