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A lightly edited transcription of a page 11 article in the 7 Mar 1918 Simcoe Reformer newspaper.

Canada Not Always A 
Land of Free People

Slaves held by Canadian at Simcoe

(Hamilton Herald)

There was a time in the early history of Hamilton when colored people were held by law as slaves, and Miss Laura B. Durward's great-grandfather was the owner of one of the first slave women brought into Canada from New York about the year 1800.

James Durand was a Welshman by birth who came to the United States in the latter years of the 18th century, where he lived for a time, and when the United Empire Loyalists began their march on Canada he joined in the procession and settled in the County of Norfolk, where he entered a farm.

The town of Simcoe was then but a struggling village, giving promise of a prosperous mercantile business, and Mr. Durand began as a country merchant, having in his employment as a clerk Peter Desjardin, who later became prominent as the promoter of the Dundas Desjardin Canal.

James Durand remained in Simcoe till the year 1805, when he sold his farm and stock of merchandise and came to the Head of the Lake and bought 100 acres of land described above, which he afterward sold to George Hamilton, which was platted in the year 1813, and put on the real estate market as the original town of Hamilton.

George Hamilton was a member of the large family of Hamiltons of the Niagara District who located in this town about the beginning of the last century.

When James Durand came to Hamilton he brought with him a colored woman, who was an apprenticed slave, for by law in Upper Canada a sort of semi-slavery was allowed then.

Another case we have history of was a slave man who was brought into Canada by the Beasley family, but who was set free, refusing however, to accept his freedom, preferring to live with the family who had always treated him kindly.

That colored man ended his days in a home provided for him by the Beasleys, out near the Delta, with every comfort, and he was the last of the old time slave apprenticeship in this part of Canada.


Editor Reformer:-- The land taken up by Mr. Durand afterwards became what was long known as the Kent property. The home stood near the present residence of Mr. E. H. Jackson, and the tradition is that the old apple trees scattered in the gardens of that part of the town were once his orchard. If we remember correctly, there is one gnarled veteran, little now but a stump, on Mr. Jackson's own lawn.

Copyright 2015 John Cardiff