There are now more than half
a million black people living in Canada, compared with about 22,000 in
1871 and even fewer, 18,000, in 1901. Before the 1950s, the majority of
immigrants of African descent came from the United States. Thereafter,
until 1980, the Caribbean area was the principal point of origin. Since
1980, a significant number of people have come from Haiti, and many new
arrivals of African descent have come from the continent of Africa - bringing
a 400 year-long process full circle. African Canadians have continued
to play an important role in the history, culture, and development of
Some examples are listed below
1604 - Mattieu
da Costa traveled with the Champlain expedition to Port Royal, serving
as an interpreter between the French and the Micmac Indians of the area.
1783 - A young black woman by the name of Rose Fortune
became Canada's first policewoman.
The War of 1818
- Fighting on the same side as white militia and Mohawk Indians,
a group of black soldiers forced American invaders to retreat in the Battle
of Queenston Heights.
1850s - Harriet Tubman published a newspaper from her
home in St. Catherines, Ontario, and made 19 trips into the United States
to help slaves escape to Canada.
1858 - About 600 Blacks from California moved to Victoria
British Columbia. One of a. them, Mifflin Gibbs, later played a key role
in persuading British Columbia to become part of Canada.
1859 - Abraham Shadd was elected to the town council in Raleigh,
Onatrio and became the first Black elected to public office.
1860 - The all-Black Victoria Pioneer Rifle Company was formed
to defend British Columbia.
1861 - Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott became the first Canadian?born
Black to graduate from medical school.
1872 - Elijah McCoy, born in Colchester, Ontario, invented the
first of his many devices to oil engines used on trains and in factories.
His inventions are so good that many people refuse to buy imitations of
his work. They insisted on having "The Real McCoy".
1882 - John Ware, a Texas cowboy, moved to Alberta. He introduced
longhorn cattle into Canada and pioneered the development of rodeo.
1909 - Black farmers from Oklahoma (including J.D. Edwards and
family),.started settling Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
1914-18 - Black Canadians joined combat units and a construction
battalion was formed as a segregated unit in the First World War. They
served with great loyalty, even though the Government of Canada tried
to keep blacks out of the Armed Forces, and even though some black soldiers
were abused, and sometimes physically attacked because of their skin colour.
1939-45 - In the Second World War, some authorities gain tried
to keep blacks out of the armed forces, but Blacks insist on serving their
country. Eventually, they joined all services of the war, often serving
1946 - Carrie Best, of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, started publishing
a newspaper called The Clarion. Later its name changes to The Negro Citizen.
It continued publication for 10 years. As a publisher and writer, Carrie
Best showed that Blacks are often not treated fairly in Nova Scotia. She
showed how they are not served in restaurants, and kept out of theatres.
Best helped to get rid of those practices, making Nova Scotia ? and Canada
- a better place to live.
1954 - Segragation ended in Nova Scotia schools when changes
were made to the law that permitted segragation.
1955 - The Canadian Pacific railway started to let some blacks
work as railway conductors. Before that time, many blacks worked on the
railway, primarily as porters, but none were allowed to be conductors.
1950-60 - New laws made it illegal to refuse to let people work,
to be served in stores or restaurants or to move into a home because of
1960s - Large numbers of people from the Carribean started settling
1962 - Daniel G. Hill, an American?born black who moved to Canada
in 1950, is made the first director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission,
the first government agency in Canada set up to protect citizens from
discrimination. Hill later becomes chairman of the Commission. Later still,
he serves as the Ombudsman of Ontario. He also wrote three books, including
The Freedom Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada.
1963 - Leonard Braithwaite was elected to the Ontario legislature,
and was the first Black to serve in a provincial legislature in Canada.
1964 - Harry Jerome of Vancouver, British Colombia, won a bronze
medal in the 100-metre dash at the Tokyo Olympics. Earlier he had run
the distance in the world record time of 10.0 seconds. In 1971, he was
awarded the Order of Canada "for excellence in all fields of Canadian
1964 - Dr. Saint Firmin Monestime was elected Mayor of Mattawa,
Ontario, making him Canada's first Black Mayor.
1972 - Rosemary
Brown of Vancouver, British Columbia, became the first Black woman elected
to a provincial legislature in Canada.
1979 - Lincoln Alexander, of Hamilton, Ontario, became Canada's
first black cabinet minister. He serves as Minister of Labour in the federal
government. From 1985 to 1991, he served as the Lieutenant Governor of
1984-88 - Daurene Lewis served as Mayor of Annapolis Royal, Nova
Scotia. She was the first black woman to be elected Mayor of a Canadian
1988 - Ben Johnson, a Canadian Olympic 100 meter runner shattered
the 100 meter sprinting record. Although later disqualified for steroid
use by the IOC he was for a short time the fastest man ever to run that
distance in all of history. Julius Alexander Isaac, a native of Grenada,
was is named Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Canada. He became the
first Black Chief Justice in Canada and the first to serve on the Federal
1996 - Donavan Bailey, of Oakville Ontario became the fastest
man in world by taking the 100 meter sprints, at the Atlanta Olympic Games.
Donavan broke both the Olympic and World records.