• 1492 Black man, Pedro Alonso Nino, accompanied Columbus to America.
  • 1497 John Cabot sails from England to Newfoundland to give the British a claim to mainland North America.
  • 1608 Mathieu D’Acosta, a Black man, served as interpreter for Monsieur du Monts, Governor at Port Royal, the French outpost established in what is now Nova Scotia.
  • 1619 A “Dutch Manne of Warre” traded 20 Black slaves for food at Jamestown, Virginia. Today, the incident is seen by many as the beginning of Black slavery in North America.
  • 1628 Canada’s first recorded slave sale, Olivier Le Jeune, a Black slave from Madagascar, was sold in New France by David Kirke.
  • 1689 Louis IV gave New France permission to bring slaves from the West Indies.

Canadian Black History Interactive Map and Timeline

 These are some significant dates related to Black History in Canada. These are incomplete and there are gaps. If you have know of an event that should be included please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • 1709 Slavery was declared legal in New France.
  • 1734 Marie- Joseph Angelique, a Black bondswoman or slave is hanged for setting fire to Montreal.
  • 1745 Blacks fought at Louisbourg for the French when it fell to the British.
  • 1749 – 59 British offered free passage and provisions to all new settlers both Black and White, who wished to immigrate to Canada.
  • 1783 General George Washington met with Guy Carleton in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Black people from escaping into British lines. One group of soldiers, the Black Pioneers, served the British forces with distinction. After the American War of independence, many of them came to the Maritimes, where they failed to receive land grants equal to those offered to other Empire soldiers. Quakers in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and other regions of Canada fought against slavery. Over 3,000 Black immigrants, free and enslaved, arrived with the United Empire Loyalists.
  • 1784 Canada’s first race riot occurred in the towns of Shelbourne and Birchtown, Nova Scotia.
  • 1791 – 92 Over 1,200 free Black people left Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for Sierra Leone, West Africa.
  • 1793 The legislation of Upper Canada prevented further importation of slaves into Upper Canada and allowed for gradual Emancipation of the children of existing female slaves. These children became free at the age of 25, while existing slaves remained in bondage for life. The Act remained in force until 1833 when slavery was abolished in most of the British Empire.
  • 1812 Blacks participated in the Battle of Queenston Heights.
  • 1833 Slavery was outlawed in the British Empire.
  • 1839 Canadian Black people were allowed to sit on juries.
  • 1843 Blacks in Hamilton complained of segregation and discrimination, specifically the denial of blacks to attend public school.
  • 1850 Canada West’s Separate school act allows for de facto segregated schools. The American fugitive slaves bill of 1850 acts as a catalyst in the formation of anti-slavery societies in Canada.
  • Mid 1800s Harriet Tubman led hundreds of runaway slaves from the southern USA through swamps and forests into Canada.
  • 1858 James Douglas was made first Governor of British Columbia.
  • 1858 The steamship Commodore brought Black immigrants from San Francisco, California to British Columbia.
  • 1860 Salt Spring Island was opened to Homesteaders. The Starks began homesteading on Salt Spring.
  • 1860 The Black Military group, the Victoria Rifle Corps, were ready to defend British Columbia if needed.
  • 1860 The Alexander’s began farming in South Saanich.
  • 1861 The naturalization act was passed on Vancouver Island after the court of Revision declared the vote to Black Americans ineligible.
  • 1862 The Alexanders initiated the building of the first Shady Creek church.
  • 1863 Explorer, John Robert Giscome, was the first non-Native to explore the route from the Fraser River to Summit Lake. This was later named the Giscome Portage.
  • 1866 Black businessman Mifflin Gibbs became a member of Victoria’s municipal government.
  • 1869 John Craven Jones was hired as a schoolteacher on Salt Spring Island.
  • 1870s Lester and Gibbs, a general store, was set up by Mifflin Gibbs and Peter Lester.
  • 1872 –73 John Sullivan Deas’ cannery had canned twice as large a pack of Salmon as any other cannery.
  • 1874 Emily Stark began teaching at the Cranberry – Cedar School in Nanaimo.
  • 1882 John Ware, Canada’s first recorded Black cowboy enters Alberta.
  • 1886 William Allen Jones became the first person to be registered as a licensed dentist in British Columbia.
  • 1900s Seraphim Joe Fortes made the beaches of Vancouver safer and friendlier.
  • 1901 The Black population of Canada is 17,437 (Haitian and Jamaican people are not included in this census.)
  • 1902 British Columbia’s Mifflin Gibbs publishes his autobiography, Shadow and Light. A number of Black newspapers were started but were short-lived. Perhaps the best known of these is the Canadian Negro published from 1903 to 1906.
  • 1904 Birth of Charles Drew, Black Canadian doctor, and discoverer of a process for the storing of blood plasma.
  • 1914 – 18 Canadian Black people serve in both segregated and non segregated army units overseas.
  • 1920s The Ku Klux Klan moves into Canada.
  • 1923 The “Franklin vs. Evans” law case allows Black people to be legally refused service at Canadian restaurants. A significant number of similar rulings are made throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
  • 1924 James Jenkins of London, Ontario, and J.W. Montgomery of Toronto, form the Canadian League, which later becomes the Association of the Advancement of Coloured People.
  • 1925 Oscar Emmanuel Peterson (1925 – 2007) was considered Canada’s greatest jazz pianist and composer, recognized by his numerous compositions, musical awards and Honourary degrees.
  • 1932 Dr. Ernest Meville DuPorte, Black entomologist, establishes the Institute of Parasilogy at McGill University.
  • 1934-36 Black physician, Dr. Phil Aaron Edwards wins 5 Olympic Bronze medals.
  • 1946 Dr. Carrie Best co-founded the Clarion newspaper to be the voice of Black Nova Scotians for promoting interracial understanding and goodwill.
  • 1951 Addie Aylestock becomes a minister of the British Methodist Episcopal Church – perhaps the first woman in Canada to gain this distinction.
  • 1952 Wilson Brooks becomes one of Toronto’s first Black teachers.
  • 1955 Eleanor Proctor Collins became the first Black woman in Canada to have her own national TV show.
  • 1957 The first Black BC lawyer, Ed Searles, was admitted to the Bar in British Columbia.
  • 1958 Willie O’Rea became the first Black to play hockey in the NHL.
  • 1958 Harry Winston Jerome broke the 220-yard world record.
  • 1959 Harry Winston Jerome broke the 100-yard world record.
  • 1960 The discriminatory immigration policy, “Domestic Scheme”, was implemented.
  • 1967 The immigration policy changed from an emphasis on racial background to a more general one of skill.
  • 1968 Lincoln Alexander became the first Black Member of Parliament.
  • 1970 More than 34,400 Black people are in Canada.
  • 1972 The first Black members of the British Columbia legislature, Rosemary Brown and Emery Barnes were elected.
  • 1974 British Columbia’s first Black judge, Selwyn Romilly, was appointed.
  • 1983 Eleanor Collins, a Black singer, received an achievement award from The Black Historical and Cultural society in British Columbia for her contribution to the entertainment industry.
  • 1985 Lincoln Alexander became the first Black Lieutenant Governor.
  • 1992 Esmeralda Thornhill, lawyer and scholar, received the Quebec Woman of the Year Award for Humanitarian and Social Action.
  • 1993 Leon Bibb began a series of concerts/discussions entitled “A Step Ahead” to combat racism in schools.
  • 1994 Emery Barnes became the first Black Speaker of the BC Legislature.
  • 1995 Selwyn Romilly was appointed the first Black judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
  • 1996 Theresa Alexander was appointed the first Black female judge of British Columbia.
  • 1997 Rosemary Brown, feminist and activist, first Black woman to be elected to political office in Canada, received the Order of Canada.
  • 1998 Austin Clarke, novelist, was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
  • 1999 Dr. Constantine Campbell, soil scientist, was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and selected to the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame.
  • 2000 National Library in Ottawa opened an exhibition featuring the life and career of internationally renowned jazz musician and composer Oscar Peterson.
  • 2001 Dr. George Elliot Clarke received Governor General’s Award for Poetry.
  • 2002 Dr. Joyce Ross, health care educator and lay minister was inducted into the Order of Canada.
  • 2003 Raymond Lewis, the first Canadian born Black Olympic medallist and Order of Canada recipient, dies at the age of 94.
  • 2004 Dr. Jean Augustine, first Black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada was appointed as Assistant Deputy Speaker.
  • 2005 Michael Jean became the first Black woman to serve as Governor General of Canada.
  • 2006 Mayann E. Francis became the first Black N.S. woman to serve as Lt. Governor General of N.S.
  • 2007 Ferguson Jenkins, former Major League Baseball pitcher receives the Order of Canada.
  • 2008 Measha Brueggergosman, opera singer, won a Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year.
  • 2009 Lawrence Hill, winner of the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, wins CBC Canada Reads.
  • 2010 Jarome Iginla, first Black National Hockey League team captain becomes an Olympic gold medallist.
  • 2011 BC writer, Esi Edugyan wins the Giller Prize for Literature.
  • 2012 Viola Davis Desmond, Canadian civil rights activist for whom a stamp was issued