UCL Institute of the Americas


Canada and Slavery in Lower Canada Newspapers, 1789-1793

18 March 2019, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

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This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Daisy Voake


Room 105
Institute of the Americas
51 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

The dominant narrative is that Canada has a positive record when it comes to slavery, and that it was an antislavery haven for African American slaves in the antebellum period who were fleeing from slavery in the United States. However, there were enslaved people in the colonies that would later become Canada, under both French and British rule. This paper explores how newspapers in colonial Canada represent enslaved people in Canada and slavery in the wider Americas, focusing on two newspapers published in Lower Canada between 1789-1793. It argues that advertisements about runaway slaves and selling enslaved people show that Canada was part of a wider print culture of slavery in the Americas. Newspaper editors simultaneously created an anti-slave-trade sentiment in their newspapers by reprinting texts from the abolition debate raging in Britain, France and the United States: colonial Canada was part of an international abolition network. By recovering these two aspects of Canada’s printed response to slavery in the Atlantic world, this paper suggests one way in which Canadians were able to read about the history of slavery in Canada and to supress this history.

About the Speaker

Dr Eleanor Bird

at Lancaster University History Department

Eleanor Bird is an Honorary Research Fellow at Lancaster University, where she is the BAVS/BARS Nineteenth-Century Matters Fellow 2018/19 and is using GIS technology to explore representations of nature and Canada in slave narratives. Her PhD ‘Canada and Slavery in Print, 1789-1889’, was awarded from the University of Sheffield in August 2018 and looks at how Canada’s self-image as an antislavery haven has developed across newspapers and slave narratives, situating Canada within a black Atlantic and abolition print history. She has a strong interest in public engagement work, including an historical cake-making evening, and she has written various blog posts for the British Library, as well as having held research fellowships with the Eccles Centre and the Nova Scotia Museum.