Many Canadians believe their nation fell on the right side of history in harbouring escaped slaves from the United States. In fact, in the wake of the American Revolution, many Loyalist families brought slaves with them when they settled in the Maritime colonies of British North America. Once there, slaves used their traditions of survival, resistance, and kinship networks to negotiate their new reality. Harvey Amani Whitfield’s book, the first on slavery in the Maritimes, is a startling corrective to the enduring and triumphant narrative of Canada as a land of freedom at the end of the Underground Railroad.
Harvey Amani Whitfield is an associate professor of history at the University of Vermont and the author of Blacks on the Border: The Black Refugees in British North America, 1815–1860 and The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777–1810.