BC Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS)

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” - Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr.


Original text of the catalogue: In this section we attempt to provide a rough idea of the number of Blacks in Canada, as whole, and in the province of B.C.  Two types of data are included; official census statistics and unofficial population estimates.  Bearing in mind the many pitfalls of enumeration, for example, problems of terminology such as “national origin, race, African, West Indian, Negro, coloured, Black”, subjective self-definitions and human biases, inadequate census-taking techniques, etc. it is probable that most of the data presented under-estimates the ‘real’ number of Blacks.


In recent statistics, data has been captured based on the term “Visible Minority” which refers to whether a person belongs to a visible minority group as defined by the Employment Equity Act and, if so, the visible minority group to which the person belongs. The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as 'persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.' The visible minority population consists mainly of the following groups:  South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean and Japanese. 

The statistics in the following tables for the years 2011 and 2016 are based on data provided based on the Visible Minority “Black”.



Date of Census Black Population Total Population
2016  1,198,545 35,151,728
2011 945,665 33,476,688
1961 32,127 18,238,247
1951 18,020 14,009,429
1941 22,174 11,506,655
1931 19,456 10,376,786
1921 18,291 8,787,949
1911 16,994 7,206,643
1901 17,437 5,371,315
1891 Not given 4,883,239
1881 21,394 4,324,810
1871 21,496 3,689,257


Black Tiles in the Mosaic.  Time. February 28, 1969,   p. 10

“The 1961 Census counted 32,127 Negroes in Canada.  Since then the Census has ceased to take note of colour and the unofficial estimates of the Black population range as high as 80,000.”

Davis, M. & Krauter, J. The Other Canadians.  op.cit. p.40

The authors mention that in a February 6, 1967, p. 7 article in the ‘Toronto Daily Star’, the Black population of Canada is estimated at being 125,000.

Winks, R. The Blacks in Canada, op.cit. pp. 493,494.

“One may reasonably conclude that the total Negro population of the British North American provinces (including the West Coast) in 1860 was approximately 62,000 … in the 1960s there were at least 40,000 Blacks in Canada, including students from the West Indies and Africa.




Date of Census Black Population Total Population
2016  43,500 4,664,058
2011 33,260 4,400,057
1961 1,012 1,692,082
1951 438 1,165,210
1941 Not given 817,861
1931 533 694,263
1921 249 264,046
1911 473 392,480
1901 532 178,657
1891 Not given 98,173
1881 274 (African) 49,459
1871 462 36,247

Racial Minorities, Province of B.C.British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF.  Task Force on Racism Kit, Appendix 1, p.1  (ICA)

Census 1971 Figures (provided by Statistics Canada)

Negro                   1,660

West Indian           775


Black Community Survey, op.cit. p. 13.

In 1971 the BCAACP made an 'educated guess' that there were 2,000 to 3,000 Blacks in British Columbia.

Kilian, C. Go Do Some Great Thing (1st edition).  op.cit. , p.165.

Killian estimates that the Black population in B.C. in the late 1970’s is probably ‘near 10,000.”

Kilian, C. Go Do Some Great Thing (2nd edition). , op.cit. , p. 143

In referring to the BCAACP Killian writes “Self-definition began in 1858 with the compilation of a list of 250 blacks in B.C.; a year later the “census” expanded to 950. “



Norcross, E. The Warm Land. , op.cit. p.38

During the election of 1871, “the population of Cowichan consisted of 456 whites, 5 coloured, and 25 Chinese”.

Saltspring Island

Robson, E.B. Diaries, February 19 and 21, 1861

Robson states that 17 out of 21 houses in Ganges harbour were occupied by “coloured families”.

Wilson, E.F. Saltspring Island B.C. ,  op.cit., p.24

Wilson estimates that out of a total population of about 470 in 1895 there were “40 coloured or Partly Coloured” people.



Kilian, C. Go Do Some Great Thing (1st edition). , op.cit. p. 165

Killian reports that “in 1858, the census counted 3,800 (Blacks) in Vancouver alone.”


Kilian, C. Go Do Some Great Thing (1st edition). , op.cit. p. 159

“A small Black community developed in the Strathcona district of Vancouver’s East End … which by 1914 probably numbered no more than 300.”

Sun. July 19, 1952, p. 15, Negroes Live Next Door.

The author of this article estimates the Black population of Vancouver as being about 700 at the time of writing.

Walhouse, Freda.  Negroes in Vancouver, op.cit. , p. 312.

“A survey taken by the Association for the Advancement of Coloured People recorded in 1959 approximately 500 adult negroes in Greater Vancouver, about 300 of whom live within the city of Vancouver.



Pilton, James W. Negro Settlement in British Columbia 1858 - 1871.  op.cit. , p. 238

The Census of Victoria and District for 1868 included 70 Black males and 57 Black females.


Estimates of 1858 arrivals:

Colonist, September 9, 1923.

S.J. Booth, a former member of the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps, estimated that 600 Blacks arrrived in Victoria.

Fawcett, E.  Some Reminiscences of Old Victoria.  op.cit., p. 215.

Fawcett estimated that 800 Blacks arrived in Victoria

Macfie, M.  Vancouver Island and British Columbia, op.cit., p. 388.

Macfie estimated that 400 Blacks arrived in Victoria

Kilian, C. Go Do Some Great Thing. (1st edition), op.cit., p. 168.

In mentioning the Victoria Black People’s Society “founded in the 1970s”, Kilian estimates that there are “300 or more Blacks living in Victoria, its suburbs and the Gulf Islands.”


The Tyee, November 18, 2009 by Crawford Killian

“On the Trail of the Yukon’s Black Pioneers”

In this article Killian writes "99 Blacks lived in the Yukon in 1901.  The 2006 census recorded 125.”